In the next stage of my apprenticeship, I’ve made the move to being the person who answers calls and questions versus being the one who asks. Don’t get me wrong, I still ask questions of my boss and colleagues, but I’m now responsible for newer apprentices. How you help shape an apprentice when they’re starting out can impact them throughout the rest of their training and career.
I’ve learned there are a lot of teachable moments, show and tell, encouragement and at times constructive criticism. For example if I have to repeat the same instructions for the third time, something is wrong here. There are days I feel like a crisis counselor, talking someone down when they’re mad about a job or co-worker, but still recognizing personalities will come into play in every workplace.
When everyone works together, things go well and the job gets done. When moods and opinions clash things slow down and that’s when I try to keep the work on track. Bottom line: it’s about the job, being professional and providing quality work on time. I’ve come to realize that not everyone has the same work ethic as I do.
At the end of the day I sometimes wonder about the best approach for coaching newbies. It tends to be situational and not every day or every scenario can be dealt with in the same way.
I used to have one journeyman who would just laugh if I asked what might be considered a silly question. I’ve had others turn around and snap at me for asking such a thing. As an apprentice you have to learn to adapt to the style of those above you. I’m still trying to figure out what my style is going to be, all the while not showing any cracks in my surety to those I’m in charge of.
At times it can be an uphill battle. Some of the newer people under me question or speak to me in ways I never see them do to my male counterparts. All I do is continue to assert myself with them and remain consistent in how I handle the push-back.
In the meantime, I know I’m not alone. Others have been here before me and I’m lucky to have coworkers who can share their expertise with me. I’ll still have my own twist on managing this phase of my career, but there’s nothing to be gained by pretending I have this all figured out!
So I take the advice where I can and chalk the rest up to learning experiences.
– Mechanical Techniques – Electrical Monitoring & Systems, 2014
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