Mark Twain once said, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” The great writer dropped out of elementary school to become a printer’s apprentice.
Like many other brilliant people, he understood one truth. Although the school offers many wonderful things, success and happiness have little to do with studies. Drive, persistence, ability to help people, and a total belief in own success – that’s what really makes a difference. But you won’t learn them in school.
Whether you’re a college dropout or a Warwick Business School graduate, you must develop those skills, attitudes, habits, and traits to succeed. In this post, let us walk you through six essential ones so you know what your dream employer is looking for.
“We seek individuals who demonstrate passion...”
That’s how Microsoft chooses people for their Leap Apprenticeship program. Passion is a must for young people trying different careers because it helps to keep going when things get tougher. If a person isn't passionate about what they do, then they’re probably working in a wrong role, or, worse still, industry.
On the other hand, if someone is passionate about what they do, they always look for better ways to improve, achieve more, and master the job. That’s intrinsic motivation at its best, and nothing can beat it. If you’re passionate about something, being in the right environment - participating in an apprenticeship program, that is - will build that passion.
Finding out your passion might not be as easy.
But if you’re really up for it, consider these tips:
- Do as much research as possible on jobs to choose the one you’re most interested in
- Ask yourself: “If I was financially secure, what would I do with my time?”
- What’s currently working well in your career? What do you find fulfilling?
Determination is another trait that Microsoft mentions as a criterion for choosing apprenticeship program participants. If an apprentice is determined to be successful in a program, the chance is great that they’ll keep going despite the biggest obstacles.
The reasons for that are that determination: 1) pushes to move forward and 2) is a major source of motivation. That’s why this trait is a standard chestnut of the self-help literature and resume optimization guides. As long as an apprentice has a goal, they will try to overcome failure and push through obstacles on the way.
In other words, failure is a temporary diversion for determined people, not an end. That’s why people call determination “the secret of success.”
The managers at AstraZeneca, a global biopharmaceutical company, say they chose highly driven individuals for their apprenticeship programs. The determination to embark on their own path and set aside “the traditional route” is what particularly impresses these mentors.
Yet another trait that Microsoft mentions as a requirement for their programs. Companies like Microsoft understand that being an apprentice is a serious test of a person’s adaptability, discipline, and confidence.
The young employees will work with different people and complete complex tasks. Take a look at this apprenticeship description below as an example. The participant will have to work productively in challenging situations – resilience is a must to succeed there.
That’s why companies mention this trait in the requirements for apprenticeship programs. They understand that young employees become more productive and valuable as staff members when they demonstrate high levels of resilience.
To help develop this trait, companies design specific techniques for managing and coaching young employees in the workplace. These techniques create experiences that promote resilience. For example, trial and error exercises are an opportunity to learn from both success and failure.
When ZipRecruiter analyzed 250,000 job ads to find the most in-demand skills, communication was mentioned in 51% of them. Whether it’s verbal, written, or both, communication is an essential skill for employees in all industries.
As you can see, employers think that communication is much more important than having a college degree, time management, and teamwork skills. Apprentices will have to communicate both in a verbal and written form with many employees, so being able to express their thoughts clearly and concisely is essential.
How prospective employers will judge potential apprentice’s communication skills:
- Resume. The way someone writes the resume, especially sections like a personal statement, could help assess written communication skills. Work experience, degree, and volunteering could give some hints about the verbal communication skills
- Apprenticeship cover letter. This document says why the applicant is a good candidate for the apprenticeship program, which requires some persuasive writing skills
- Interview. Hiring managers will evaluate communication skills during a verbal or video interview using specific questions.
5. Willingness to Learn
Apprenticeship programs are all about learning new knowledge every day. Regardless of the company or industry, all young employees learn these job aspects while in training:
- Specific apps and/or tools used to perform job duties
- Workplace etiquette and safety rules
- The most common mistakes that people make in specific positions
- Quality assurance policies and procedures
- Record keeping and policies that guide daily work.
Being eager to learn both general skills and specific industry skills is a major precursor of success for young employees.
The most successful apprentices are those who retained the knowledge and learned how to apply it. Like the practical knowledge needed to write a dissertation discussion section in a university paper, the knowledge obtained in an apprenticeship program will serve well to get the attention of a hiring manager.
And that’s not all.
Being an apprentice also means learning about yourself. You can discover new interests, skills, or qualities or improve on the existing ones. But learning about self is possible only if a person is willing to commit.
Brian Herbert, an American sci-fi author, wrote,
“The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill, and the willingness to learn is a choice.”
6. Ability to Work Autonomously
As an apprentice progresses, he or she will be given more independence in the workplace. That’s why having the ability to work autonomously after training is an excellent skill for young employees.
In fact, OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training found that over 50% of apprenticeship programs in 2018 were started by small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. This finding suggests that employers are looking to get help from young employees as fast as possible, which makes the ability to work autonomously a major advantage.
The same truth might also apply to larger companies. That’s why this skill is something that many young people see when looking for an apprenticeship program.
Apprenticeships are growing in popularity and for a good reason. It’s an opportunity to work in global companies, gain valuable experience, meet industry professionals, and get paid. As with any job, young employees need to have a set of certain personal skills and traits to make the most out of the experience.
Passion, determination, resilience, communication, willingness to learn, and the ability to work autonomously are some of these skills that increase the chance of success. They apply to every professional role, company, or industry.
Employers are looking for apprentices who demonstrate them – so having and developing them is important. Besides, skills like communication can be learned, so investing in a professional skillset is something that’ll serve you well in the future.