Inside AIFP: A Day in the Life of a Rookie Trader


At AIFP, we’re incredibly proud of the paid apprenticeship program we’ve developed to help our team build the career skills and the knowledge they need to succeed as a commodity trader, even if they don’t already have experience in the field. In today’s blog, we worked with our current rookie traders to give you an inside look at what their days look like and what they’ve learned along the way.

A Typical Rookie Trader Schedule

Not only is there a lot to learn during our paid trader training program, but there’s also a lot of groundwork to lay when developing your trading business. That’s why rookie traders start their day at 5:30am and don’t end it until 4:00pm, with one hour for a lunch break in between.

Daily Rookie Trader Duties

As a rookie trader, your main responsibilities are learning and prospecting. Whether it’s shadowing the admin staff and traders to learn the ins and outs of the business, attending sales trainings, visiting mills, or keeping up on industry news, a big part of being a rookie trader is learning the knowledge and skills you need to succeed.

Once you’ve learned enough to start sales prospecting, you’ll start by working side by side with our seasoned traders. You’ll also have the time and resources to devote to researching potential prospects, making sales calls, and communicating with your current customers.

During the final phase of the program, you’ll be assigned a department, which enables you to start clearly defining your business as it relates to your specific steel or lumber specialty. You’ll also be taking everything you’ve learned and developing your own personal system for staying organized and successful once you graduate from the program and start making commissions.

The Most Challenging Part of Steel and Lumber Trading

Steel and lumber trading is hard work, and there’s no escaping the challenges of building your business from the ground up. Because you’re trying to learn so much and get the most of out of your time in the program, the days can feel busy and taxing, which, without the right mindset, can make it hard to stay mentally energized. There’s also a lot of rejection, especially at the beginning of your trading career when you’re making upwards of 80 calls per day. This can also mean that you go through stretches where you aren’t making many sales. But while making your way through our apprenticeship program is challenging, it’s also incredibly rewarding and leads to a flexible career with unlimited earning potential.

The Best Part of Working at AIFP

There’s a lot to love about working at AIFP. Our rookie traders love the fact that every day feels different and that there’s a built-in mechanism for learning everything they need to know about steel and lumber trading. They also love the sense of ownership they feel building their own “business within the business” and the euphoria they feel when they make a sale. Many rookie traders also cite the company culture at AIFP as being of the best parts of the job. From mentorship opportunities and the camaraderie of the team to the fun events and company trips that AIFP plans, the people and the culture make the job so much more fun.

What Makes a Great Steel and Lumber Trader in Training

To succeed as a commodity trader in training, you’ll need self-motivation, determination, and persistence. While our paid trader training program teaches you much of the knowledge and skills you need to succeed, its up to you to put it in the hard work every day. You’ll also need to be teachable—listening and paying attention to everything you’re taught, implementing feedback, and holding yourself accountable to learning the information as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Learning an industry, building sales skills, and creating a business takes time, so the best rookie traders are the ones that can stay resilient in the long-term while being willing to fail in the short-term.

Advice from Our Rookie Traders

Here’s the expert advice our current set of rookie traders have to offer anyone entering the program:

  • People respond well to authenticity, so be authentic in everything you do. – Cameron Dixon
  • Use your time in the apprenticeship program to figure out where you time is best spent, create a schedule that works for you, and then stick to that schedule. –Jael Stein
  • Gain respect from the veterans. –Dylan Conway
  • Stay ambitious and hungry. –Jake Rudolph
  • Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. –Ben Ailstock

Are you a recent graduate looking for an apprenticeship program that can help you build the sales career of your dreams? The AIFP paid trader training program has you covered. Apply today to start your career at one of the best places to work in Portland. In the meantime, check out our blog where we cover everything from what AIFP traders think you should know about our paid trader training program to the soft skills every trader needs to succeed.

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