Career Development and Mentorship

A Guide for Young Electrical Apprentices: Fitting in with Your New Role

December 1, 2023

A young electrical apprentice, possibly in their late teens or early twenties, is engaged in a hands-on task, such as wiring or examining an electrical component, in a workshop or job site setting. The focus is on their concentration and determination, with a background featuring elements of the electrical trade. The image emphasizes the apprentice's eagerness to learn and absorb knowledge and skills, capturing the essence of their personal growth and development in the early stages of their electrical career.

Congratulations on embarking on your journey as a young electrical apprentice! As you begin this exciting chapter of your professional life, it's crucial to understand that fitting in with your new role involves more than just mastering technical skills. Building positive relationships, understanding workplace dynamics, and developing a strong work ethic are all key to a successful apprenticeship. In this article, we will guide you through some essential tips to help you settle.


Embrace a Learning Mindset

Approach your apprenticeship with a genuine thirst for knowledge. Be open to new experiences, seek guidance from your mentors, and actively participate in training sessions. Demonstrating a willingness to learn will not only enhance your technical skills but also earn you respect from your colleagues and supervisors. Asking genuine questions about tasks you are asked to carry out or even observe, shows you are interested in what is happening and indicates to your colleagues that you have an active interest. Remember.. there is no such thing as a stupid question. Your colleagues would rather you ask a basic question to grasp an understanding than you to pretend you understand, to then later get something wrong after trying to ‘wing-it’

Develop Strong Communication Skills

Effective communication is crucial in any work environment. As an apprentice, I understand you probably don’t have the confidence to be outspoken in this environment and its probably best not to talk for the sake of talking. However, it’s essential to listen carefully and communicate clearly. Ask questions when you're unsure, seek feedback on your work, and be receptive to constructive criticism. Take on board any negative comments and don’t take it too personally, nobody masters a task the first time round. You may have tried really hard and your supervisor may rip it apart. This is when you should listen to criticism and take it upon yourself to ask, the correct way of completing a task, so not to replicate the mistakes. By mastering good communication skills, you will foster better relationships with your colleagues and supervisors, leading to a more productive and harmonious workplace. 

Show initiative and Be Proactive

Demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment by taking initiative. Observe the tasks being carried out, offer your assistance where appropriate, and take responsibility for your own learning. Whilst watching your supervisor carry out a task, take it upon yourself to figure out what they will be doing next and prepare what tools or materials they will use for the next task. It’s easy to stand around just watch, but if you are handing the next tool to your colleague it shows you are paying attention to what he’s doing. Another way to be proactive is to take the opportunity to shadow experienced professionals, seek additional projects, and volunteer for extra responsibilities. For example if you are sat on your dinner break and your supervisor gets called out the snap cabin by a client. Go follow him, take an active interest in what is happening. This is how you gain experience, by being proactive, you will not only enhance your learning but also make a positive impression on your superiors.

Respect the Hierarchy and Workplace Culture

Every workplace has its own unique culture and hierarchy. Observe and respect the established protocols, adhere to safety regulations, and follow the instructions provided by your supervisors. I am not saying you should be sucking up to people, just show respect to everyone you encounter, regardless of their position, and be mindful of your behaviour both on and off the job. Punctuality, professionalism, and a positive attitude are essential attributes that will help you fit in well with your colleagues. An incident that you think is hilarious that happened on Saturday night, might not  impress your work colleagues so just be mindful of the audience you’re talking to.

Build Relationships and Seek Mentors

Networking and building relationships are essential for professional growth. Connect with fellow apprentices, skilled electricians, and other professionals in the industry. Seek out a mentor who can provide guidance, advice, and support throughout your apprenticeship. As miserable as that supervisor may seem, if you ask the right questions you may just break the ice. Many Electricians would love nothing more than to impart their wisdom, with little tips and tricks of the trade but if they don’t respect you they won’t give you the time of day. A mentor is key, they can offer valuable insights, help you navigate challenges, and provide guidance on your career development.

Embrace Teamwork

The electrical industry thrives on teamwork. Collaborate with your colleagues by contributing to group projects, and support one another. There will always be that competitive nature amongst young men, but know when to turn it on and when to be a team player. Be a reliable team member by fulfilling your responsibilities, communicating effectively, and assisting others when needed. By fostering a positive team environment, you will not only enhance your learning but also build a strong professional network. A lot of the people you meet during your apprenticeship will be around the industry for the duration of your working life. That is why it's imperative to create good impressions and build strong relationships.

More tips

  • You may find the blokes you work with boring and wouldn’t dream of socialising with them, however, make the effort to go to any social events. After a few beers you’d be surprised how even the hardest nosed bosses loosen up (don’t get suckered into drinking too much, your supervisors are probably seasoned pro’s on the beers, don’t get involved in pissing matches)
  • If you go to the shop, ask EVERYONE if they want anything picking up
  • Stay OFF your phone! Nothing upsets Gen-Z blokes more than seeing a young lad glued to his phone. These men had Nokias brick phones and didn’t grow up with social media, they don’t understand the fascination with your phone. Whilst your on the clock at work, make a conscious effort to keep your phone in your pocket
  • Get yourself a “bits-box”. Purchase a tray box with dividers and fill it with all the small items you may use like; Screws, raws, wago’s and sleeving. This will save you so much time when you don’t have to keep nipping back to the van to collect materials. Become self reliant!
  • Buy kit! As much as you will want to spend your money on other things, your kit is an investment. It is what earns you money. Even though you are employed, you should still invest in your own kit. Put £20 a week towards kit you need, even if it’s something as small as a pack of sharpies. This shows your employer you take pride in your work and are actively improving yourself
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