5 Steps to Creative Apprenticeship Success 21 July 2015

The new age of apprenticeships is amongst us. From its historical beginnings as a vocational route for traditional mining, engineering and hairdressing industries, apprenticeships have geared up for the digital age. They are now an incubator for creative talent with many progressive pathway options on offer. Since 2009, Marketing & Communication Apprentices have increased by a whopping 1000%, meaning that an alternative entry route into the creative industries is now a reality. Has the university bubble finally burst?

An apprenticeship can be an exciting vehicle to flex your grey matter and find out where your cranium excels itself. But with it comes new challenges such as managing workloads, deadlines and your own time effectively. These are the lesser-taught skills of employment and yet can yield the most valuable results. As a Creative Pioneer coming to the end of my apprenticeship, my productivity levels have risen, and I’ve become a dab hand at managing my in-tray in addition to learning and studying. So too am I a seasoned purveyor of productivity in the workplace, I’d like to share my tips on how to achieve apprenticeship success.

Practice, practice, practice

Practice makes perfect, and studies have shown that there is some substance to the classic phrase. For example, Malcolm Gladwell’s widely cited 10K theory suggests that practicing any task for a total of 10,000 hours is enough to make you an expert. Now I’m not suggesting you should cram all of these hours into your apprenticeship, but this popular theory enforces the notion that if you put in the time, anyone can succeed in a subject, no matter your current ability. Why not try scheduling in a couple of hours of self-study each week; it may seem to be a lot, but it’ll help you sharpen your skills and add value in the workplace at a much faster rate.

The power of delayed gratification

Delaying gratification is the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and wait for a later one – something that can be very hard to do. Living for short-term rewards, may seem like harmless decisions, but it could be the difference between an upwards trajectory of success or a frustrating career-ladder plateau. Ever heard of the Stanford Marshmallow Test? The seminal gratification based experiment which challenged children to see if they could display self-control and resist the temptations of a marshmallow, to be later rewarded with double the amount. Studies revealed the children who demonstrated fortitude and withstood the wait were likely to be more productive, self-motivated and psychologically adjusted throughout adult life. The experiment went down in history as one of the most important psychological tests and illustrated that our primary instincts to seek immediate pleasure can be hard to override.  Perseverance can be tough, but avoiding short-term rewards can help you set your sights on bigger goals and helps you work towards achieving them.

Find an in-house mentor

While apprenticeships are fun, there’s sometimes a steep curve where you’re constantly learning new skills. Always ask if you need help or guidance. People are friendly and all started somewhere, so are usually happy to help when you need a guiding light. Having a go-to person to act as a mentor is a great way to enhance your development. They can give advice, make you feel at ease, and be able to answer those little questions that often get overlooked.

Multitasking

The ability to switch from logical based tasks to more lateral styles of thinking is essential. From coming up with creative solutions one minute, to following detailed processes the next, the ability to switch from lateral thinking to more logical thought processes is known as diagonal thinking. There are a plentitude of Apps such as Lumosity, Elevate and Memrise that will give a jolt to your neural pathways and train you into being adept at making the switch.

Routine

Scheduling time slots for tasks are key. Making lists and having a clearly defined idea of what you need to achieve helps to manage your workload more effectively and be more productive. Structured routines move your mind from having a vague idea of what you want to accomplish into a tick boxing, list-crosser-offing productivity machine. Once you realise that a routine is a prerequisite to success you’ll see all previous distractions eventually eliminated. Without structure, it’s easy to let the non-essential things get in the way of work. Have a plan of action and get a routine on the scene.

If you feel like this could be you, and what's said here is ringing true – then I couldn’t recommend a Marketing Apprenticeship highly enough. Diversity isn’t just about ethnicity or gender, it’s about making employment accessible too. Point to Creative Pioneers or National Apprenticeship Service to discover more.

Kieran Haddock - Marketing Assistant Apprentice

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