When it comes to an apprenticeship program, you’ll only get out what you put in. While companies with apprenticeship programs should have a well-designed career training curriculum, anything extra you put into the program will help you stand out and reach your ultimate goal: becoming the best you can be. Whether you’re applying to AIFP’s one-of-a-kind paid trader training program or you’re completing a program somewhere else, these tips will help you make the most of your apprenticeship program.
While your apprenticeship program may have you come up with some official goals for the program, it might benefit you to create your own personal goals to work toward. If, for example, you tend to have trouble participating socially, make it a goal to ask at least three different people for coffee, lunch, or happy hour. If you tend to have trouble receiving constructive feedback, make it a goal to breathe deep and count to ten before responding to criticism. If you tend to be nervous about asking questions, make it your goal to bring one well-thought out question to the office every day, even it means brainstorming the night before. Remember, the goal of an apprenticeship program is not just to provide career training, it’s also to help you develop the soft skills you need to thrive.
You’ll be surprised how much valuable information is built into your apprenticeship program. Keeping a daily journal is a great way to make sure you don’t forget any of the important stuff. Not only will it help you remember important information, but it can also give you a place to reflect on questions you might want to ask. Then, at the end of your apprenticeship program, you’ll have a physical document that shows you just how much you learned over the course of your on-the-job training.
Companies with apprenticeship programs tend to have standardized training processes that have been cultivated over the years, but that doesn’t mean you won’t run into questions. While it can be intimidating to ask questions, especially if you think you should already know the answer, it can actually showcase how well you’re paying attention and synthesizing the information that’s being presented to you. In fact, a smart question can even illuminate problems, offer an unexpected solution, and show an intellectual curiosity that most managers appreciate and reward. Plus, they can prevent you from making preventable mistakes.
To make the most of your apprenticeship program, it’s important to say yes to any opporunities that arise. If a mentor offers to train you in something that doesn’t line up exactly with your career goals, say yes anyway. When a colleague asks you to go to lunch, say yes even if you brought your lunch in that day. While it’s important not to say yes to anything you can’t reasonably do—don’t say yes to a project you don’t have the resources to complete, for example—you don’t want to say no to something just because it’s challenging or inconvenient.
It’s no surprise that networking is critically important, especially during an apprenticeship program. That said, networking for the sake of networking can come off as transactional and insincere. True networking isn’t about introducing yourself to as many powerful people as possible, it’s about finding ways to connect with the people around you. What starts as a conversation about a shared sports fandom can quickly transition into an unlikely sales tip. A brief chat about a hike you took that weekend might end up providing you with valuable insight into company procedures. While you want to avoid looking at the people around you as a means to an end, that doesn’t mean that you should ignore the value that other people can add to your career training. It just means that you should focus on connecting as a person first and a resource second.
One of the great things about a good apprenticeship program is that it helps you discover your strengths and weaknesses in a given field. Not only will this help you create realistic career goals, but it can give you some guidance on the types of skills you need to develop to thrive in your industry. While you’ll likely be getting regular feedback from whoever is training or mentoring you, feedback doesn’t have to stop there. After you work with someone new on a project, reach out to them to ask what you did well and what could use improvement.
Looking for companies that hire recent grads? Look no further than American International Forest Products. Not only are we always hiring commodity traders, but we even provide an amazing paid apprenticeship program to prepare you for the role. Apply today to start your career at one of the best places to work in Portland, Oregon. In the meantime, check out our blog, where we cover everything from what to look for in an apprenticeship program to job search tips for recent grads.
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There is no substitute for hard work. If you really want to make and run a business here, you have all the tools available to you here.Billy Culver Trader, European Products Department Head
I really enjoy the freedom to create your own customer base and build a business trading the products you want to trade. While being the hardest thing I have ever done, being a trader has also been the most rewarding!Alex Schilling Trader