What is it like being an apprentice?

What is it like being an apprentice?

My apprenticeship with ABa

Since starting my apprenticeship at ABa in March 2023, I have always felt very welcome by my colleagues, in a work environment where everyone is friendly. At first it was quite daunting as I felt unsure on how I was going to fit in to a workplace where everyone seems so close knit. However, after my first day this fear went completely! I was made to feel very comfortable, and everyone made an effort to get to know me straight away which was great. Since settling in, if I ever have a question to ask, or am struggling to do something, there is always someone around to ask and they are always more than happy to help.

My knowledge and experience

At the start of my apprenticeship, I had limited knowledge of business operations and IT skills. However, since becoming more familiar with the IT packages we use, I have acquired a substantial amount of knowledge which has significantly enhanced my existing skills. Over the past year, my social interaction skills have also seen a marked improvement. Regular phone communication, both internally with colleagues and externally with Assessors, has played a pivotal role in boosting my confidence and communication abilities. Colleagues have provided constructive feedback on the way I articulate conversations with Assessors when dealing with queries and feedback, proving valuable for my professional development. Another notable progression in my skill set is in my understanding of the Mystery Shopping industry and the broader spectrum of customer experience. Previously, I did not fully grasp the significance of maintaining a constant flow of customer feedback. To broaden my expertise in this sector, I have proactively engaged in on-the-job training, which involved carrying out face to face and phone assessments for a variety of brands that we work with. This hands-on experience has provided valuable insights into the challenges Assessors face during their own visits, therefore furthering my understanding of their perspective. Additionally, these visits have deepened my understanding of the reports I quality check, enabling me to make any improvements that I may not have noticed beforehand.

So far within my apprenticeship, I have learnt a lot of new things to do with business and I have also developed a significant range of new skills and attributes that have allowed me to both develop professionally and personally. One of these attributes is communication. I feel like this goes hand in hand with confidence as some times if I was struggling, I would sit and try to figure it out myself rather than asking someone for help straight away, which is better to do. However, as I have gotten more comfortable and gained confidence, my communication has improved a lot. I ask for help whenever I need it, make outgoing phone calls almost daily and now easily know which form of communication is more appropriate depending on what I am asking and how quickly I need the information.

Another key attribute that I have improved on is the willingness to learn. I am always interested in learning new things, whether that be about a new programme or how to do something that I have not done before. I am always willing to stay up to date with the new updates that may happen on websites that we use. I think having the willingness to learn is a necessary skill as it shows that you are keen and interested in the topic that you are working on.

A third attribute that I have gotten better at is taking accountability. Taking accountability, especially if you have done something incorrectly, can be quite a nerve-wracking thing due to the worry of letting down your peers. However, it is a necessity in the workplace as it shows responsibility and then you can learn from the mistake you have made. During my first few months, and even more so recently, I have taken accountability for minor mistakes that I have made and for things that I haven’t managed to complete. By taking accountability of things, this makes you more dependable as even if you are working on a task and make a mistake, this will always be fixed as you have taken accountability for it and corrected it.

What my role entails

Within my role, I work on a range of tasks from allocation, quality checking and signing off invoices, to creating briefing materials for multiple programmes. I also get in touch with our Assessors when there is fieldwork running to make sure everyone is up to date and that they have the correct tools and training to successfully carry out their allocations.

I help my colleagues out when they are busy by working on the other day to day tasks that are standardised on each account, such as quality checking reports, checking on project progress and being available to support our field force. The work that I do to help can be anything from researching contacts for future projects or creating imports, and I also set up the meeting room (online and in office) for our team’s weekly catchup. This allows my colleagues the time to focus on other key tasks they need to complete, such as creating a presentation for a client, knowing that I can pick up any regular day to day administration.

My week usually ends with a day working on reception. Within this role I answer incoming calls, attend to visitors, and ensure that all outgoing mail is prepared and ready for collection. This role has also helped boost my confidence with answering the phones and dealing with unexpected conversations.

What advice I would give

If you are considering a Business Admin apprenticeship, you need to have good organisation skills and a willingness to continuously improve. You will need to take control of your own emails and folder management, so that you can locate specific project information swiftly. You will need to take responsibility for completing your task list, provide timely (often daily) updates to your Line Manager and over time be able to make good judgements regarding task prioritisation. Within my role at ABa, there are often several ‘different plates to keep spinning’ and providing organised, reliable administrative support is a key role in each project’s success.

You will also need to develop excellent time management skills, as you will need to coordinate when to do your tasks and how much time you should spend on each one to make sure that all aspects of your role are completed. A great tip is to make sure you are ready for work at your desk prior to the start of your contracted hours, so that you are prepared and have identified your ‘to-do’ list before the start of the day. It is important to be disciplined and honest with yourself about how best you work and where you can ‘work smarter’ to ensure you are being efficient with your time.

How I would like to develop

I would like my apprenticeship to help guide me to becoming a Business Administrator so that I can then move on to furthering my career and delve into other sectors of business. Whether that be taking a finance course in future, doing further education for qualifications, or settling in a business and working my way up the ladder as much as I can and learning along the way. This is a longer-term goal, as I want to take my time and see how my career will plan out within the first year of having achieved my qualification. I feel as though my apprenticeship so far has been really helpful with learning and gaining real life experience in this field of work which I think has been necessary. It has taught me so much already and I am only at the beginning of my career, and I can only imagine that the more I embrace every opportunity within my work the more knowledge I will obtain, and the more doors will open for me.

ABa is one of the UK’s leading providers of bespoke CX measurement programmes. To find out more about how we can help any organisation develop and improve their customer’s experience, contact Danielle Sones, Managing Director (danielle@aba.co.uk / 0161 431 1221).