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Qualities of a Good Apprentice

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From chefs and commercial fishermen to electricians and machinists, a number of careers require experience that can be obtained only through on-the-job training. Apprenticeships allow inexperienced individuals to work under the supervision of a mentor or an experienced team to learn trade skills. Good apprentice candidates demonstrate responsibility, a willingness to learn, positivity and teamwork skills, however in some fields, previous school training is required.

Work Ready

Top candidates show up to their apprenticeships ready to work with responsible behavior and a good work ethic. Although apprentices may be working for low or no pay, they are rewarded with the experience and training needed to obtain a full-time position in their career field. Good apprentices understand this compensation structure and demonstrate a level of professionalism that meets or exceeds that of full-time employees. Professionalism includes keeping work stations clean and orderly, showing up on time and treating all co-workers and superiors with respect. Some apprenticeships also require physical exertion that necessitates candidates meet certain health standards. The best candidates maintain these health standards throughout their entire apprenticeship.

Quick Study

Skills training is the primary purpose of an apprenticeship, so good apprentices come ready to learn with a sharp focus on the task at hand, marked attention to detail and equipped with note-taking materials, if appropriate. Focus, attention and note-taking are tools you can use to become known as a quick study on the job. Top candidates also put in some study time before their first day, by reading the company’s website and employee bios, as well as reviewing descriptions of tasks you’ll likely be asked to perform. There is no need to memorize any corporate information; simply a quick familiarization will do. However, some apprenticeships do require more extensive training, such as an electrician’s apprenticeship, which may require enrollment in or completion of electrician coursework or certification.

Keep Up

When it comes to the workplace, having a positive attitude is a necessity, one that requires more than simply slapping a smile on your face. While a positive attitude will impact work relationships, good apprentices know to maintain positivity in their work as well. This requires adopting a “can-do” attitude in the face of any difficulties or failures encountered throughout the training. Top candidates also focus on meeting and exceeding standards set out for them, so that by the end of their apprenticeship they’ve gained the experience and knowledge needed to apply for paid positions.

For the Team

While many apprentices are assigned to a specific mentor or supervisor, the good ones know to make themselves available as a support for all those on the job. By offering assistance to the entire team, apprentices have more opportunities to demonstrate their loyalty, problem-solving skills and value as a team player. This also expands their opportunities to learn tips and tricks from others. Take care to gain prior approval from your mentor or supervisor before offering your assistance to others, as they may have plans that will keep you too busy to fulfill commitments to others.


A former art instructor, high school counselor and party planner, Christine Bartsch writes fashion, travel, interior design, education and entertainment content. Bartsch earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in communications/psychology/fine arts from Wisconsin Lutheran College and a creative writing Master of Fine Arts from Spalding University. She's written scripts for film/television productions and worked as the senior writer at a video game company.

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