I started my apprenticeship with Nestle and CMI in 2015. It’s been a brilliant experience but not one without its challenges. Here I share a bit about my experience, what I found challenging and what I wish I known before I started to help anyone considering balancing work and study or already doing that and struggling a bit along the way.
My number one challenge has been managing my time effectively. My apprenticeship has required me to cover lots of bases - I could have an assignment deadline in the same week as an important business deadline - so managing my time has been essential and also crucial to maintain a healthy work/ life balance. I wish someone had told me to stick to one task at a time and not allow myself to get distracted. This is important because distractions make a task so much longer to complete and I don’t have the luxury of time! There are things you can do to help you with this such as changing your outlook settings so emails don’t pop up and CMI also has handy resources to improve skills like time management skills through logging into the Career Development Centre.
Be yourself but be open to feedback
Being yourself is so important - to feel happy and secure at work - but it’s also important to be aware of how your personality might impact on other people in your team or organisation. I have learnt to be flexible with my communication style for different audiences and to develop my self awareness to ensure I’m direct when I need to be but avoid being so to-the-point as to cause offence. I’ve found the best way to do this is to take the time getting to know people and the way they like to be communicated with. Typically I’ve found face to face to be most effective and don’t hide behind emails but be aware not everyone has the same preference.
I think it’s important to be flexible and to adapt but don’t change yourself too much. You were recruited because of who you are and your potential. Not to become the same as everyone else. Diversity adds value to employers. So just be yourself.
Take care of yourself – body and mind
This might sound really obvious but it is key and something that I’ve learnt to make time for. Some people when joining a training scheme (like me!) will move out of home and start their life without going to University first. Make sure you know how to cook a few easy and healthy dishes to keep you going and get out and about, especially if you’re office-based, to support your own wellbeing. I’ve also found it helpful to reflect on the day by starting with three things I did well. Performance is important, but wellbeing is more so.
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