Were you lucky enough to land a summer apprenticeship this year? If so, we hope you are having a wonderful experience so far and are learning so much every single day. Apprenticeships and co-ops provide an incredible learning experience and the opportunity to explore a range of positions, get comfortable in a professional setting, and find the right fit within the construction industry. They bring to life classroom principles in real-life settings, taking lessons and turning them into applications out in the field and on the job site. being exposed to all types of tasks, machines, and projects, interns walk away with a clearer understanding of where they want to go in the industry.
This entry-level experience gives apprentices the credibility needed to enter the workforce with confidence. Sure, the intent of an apprenticeship is education, but the goal for many is earning a full-time position by the end of their contract. The thing is, these apprenticeships are often the first exposure to working in the “real world,” making it a big – often intimidating – first step in a career in construction.
Here are some tips and suggestions for making the most of an apprenticeship experience:
- Be curious.
Showing your desire to learn is the number one way to prove your interest in the work and dedication to the company. It can be tempting to hide in the background until getting specific directions, but we recommend that apprentices avoid the urge to sit back and let higher ups take care of everything. Show initiative and seek out answers. There’s no need to be hesitant. When it comes to learning in the construction industry, there are no dumb questions. It’s better to ask now than be confused and risk safety and proper execution later.
- Be an active listener and ask questions during your training.
- Clarify the “why” behind a specific step when supporting a senior crew member on a project.
- Request one-on-one time with teammates to get a better understanding of their day-to-day life.
- Seek out mentors
As you follow our first tip and ask all the right questions, it’s important to identify who you’d most like to get answers from. Apprentices are typically learning side-by-side with more experienced crew members. The trick is connecting the right mentor with the right apprentice. But remember, a mentor shouldn’t do a lot of hand-holding. Instead, they are there to help green employees find their potential.
When finding your construction mentor:
- Know your goals and seek out someone who is in a position you hope to be in someday.
- Prepare an elevator pitch to officially ask a mentor to guide you in your transition from intern to a full-time employee.
- As you gain your hands-on experience, follow their lead and learn how they do things.
- Bring your best self to work every day.
We know that workday hours are long, especially when compared to a typical undergrad class schedule, but if apprentices want to take an entry-level position and transform it into their first official job, they must give it their all every single day. Every action made in an apprenticeship has the potential to guarantee an offer or destroy their chances.
- Get plenty of sleep and arrive at work early.
- Keep a positive attitude, avoiding office gossip and excessive complaining, and adhering to proper field etiquette.
- Be a team player by helping others and showing initiative on every project. Asking what your colleagues need from you will go a long way.
Always remember that these few months of experience are like a summer-long interview. Everything you do will be evaluated by your teammates. Now, this isn’t meant to intimidate, but rather, inspire you to show your employer that you are right for the job.