What I Wish I Knew When I Started My Career

  10 February, 2021      CareersIndustry Insights
What I Wish I Knew When I Started My Career

Do you ever wish you could go back to the start of your career and give advice to your former self? Well since this is National Apprenticeship Week, we asked a few Novus colleagues what advice they would give current or future apprentices who are just beginning their career.

Charlie Cooley

Head of Operations, Scotland and North East

Q: What are the common pitfalls for apprentices?

A: It’s important to not just think of the apprenticeship as a 4 year programme etc. You want to excel in every year, be the best you can and take the opportunity to learn and develop – don’t just follow the crowd.

charlie cooley advice

Q: Can you think of any mistakes that new apprentices generally make and how to avoid them?

A: A lot of new apprentices come into the programme thinking that it’s going to be just like school. You behave or act in a certain manner, and think its okay to be late or take time off. Entering the world of work can be a steep learning curve.

Q: Do you have any general nuggets of advice for apprentices?

A: Always ask loads of questions!
Build a good relationship with your trade person or mentor also, after all they are there to give you positive advice and direction.

As a rule, always ask for feedback on your performance too, you can never get enough feedback, and this will help your progress.

Q: Are there any things you got wrong early in your career but have learnt from?

A: Yes absolutely. I learnt the hard way early in my career as I got “laid off” as soon as my time was over.

I was hugely upset at the time but I think it gave me the kick up the bum I needed to ensure I was always the best version of myself!

Q: Do you have tips on how to stand out as an apprentice?

A: Don’t follow the crowd and ensure that you build a good relationship with all colleagues.

You want to have a situation where they are all fighting to have you as their apprentice. Also remember that this is the start of a journey, where you can be anything you want to be.

Vikki Cooper

Trainee Quantity Surveyor

Q: What advice do you have for new apprentices?

A: It is important to stay positive and not to get bogged down by any negativity. The opportunities for progression are there if you work hard, show willing and determination. From personal experience, support from managers I have worked with over the years has been there, so don’t be afraid to talk to them about anything.

Whether it be new ideas, concerns, areas of improvement, or your own personal growth / development. Talk to them.

Don’t take what is communicated as anything less than constructive. Take it, work with it, build on it and you’ll see results.

Take what’s offered and add as many strings to your bow as possible.

I never imagined being where I am now when I left school, and through working with Novus and the team around me I have developed in many areas knowledgably and personally.

Dave Barnes

Compliance Works Manager

Q: What advice would you give to apprentices at the start of their career?

A: I believe that one common challenge for apprentices, is being afraid of asking too many questions.

No matter how many times you need to ask for advice or need instructions repeated, make sure you are not afraid to do so.

Q: Are there any common errors you frequently see?

A: Trying too hard to fit into the team straight away.

I think it’s important that you go at your own pace when starting out as an apprentice as the most important thing is your own development to achieve your objectives.

Your valued place within the team will naturally fall into place further down the line.

Q: Do you have any general advice for apprentices?

A: As Charlie and Vikki have said, a ‘can do’ positive attitude is very important to achieving goals, of course you will get bad days which is a normal for everybody.

You will need a ‘can do’ mind set to enable you to get through your development plan and overcome any struggles you may encounter during your apprenticeship with the support of your mentors.

Q: Are there any areas where you struggled as an apprentice but have learnt from?

A: Not taking on board advice from mentors or colleagues.

I learned that lesson the hard way, leading to making mistakes due to believing my own personal way at the time was the best approach for a particular task.

Take a step back and evaluate what advice you have been given before making any decisions.

Q: How do you stand out as an apprentice?

A: You will simply stand out by being dedicated, enthusiastic, using your initiative to solve problems and most importantly, willing to work hard to achieve goals.

Simon Brown

Contracts Manager

Q: Are there any common pitfalls for new apprentices?

A: Charlie alluded to it earlier, I think the biggest challenge for new apprentices is the change from that of your normal day-to-day school/home life to a whole new routine.

That, and being afraid of asking too many questions.

Q: What are the most common mistakes you see?

A: Communication is often a big issue with many new starters, but being able to overcome this barrier makes adapting to working life a much simpler transition.

Q: Do you have any general advice for new apprentices?

A: Give it 100%.

It’s a great opportunity to learn a trade and to be able to pass this/your knowledge onto the future generations.

Q: How do you stand out as apprentice?

A: As your confidence grows, begin to use your own initiative on site.

Ask questions such as “what can I do now?” or “what’s next after this task?”

A Special Message from Novus CEO Alan Nixon

Novus Apprenticeships

We hope that has been useful for any current or potential apprentices. Of course if you want to add your own helpful tips to the article, please suggest them in the comment section on our social media post.

The Novus Apprenticeship programme is currently being finalised, keep an eye out of updates via the Novus Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages.

Reflecting on Housing 2024

Reflecting on Housing 2024

We’re delighted to have had a successful presence at Housing 2024, a key event in our annual calendar. The three-day event sees stakeholders from across the housing sector come together at Manchester Central to discuss and collaborate to identify solutions.


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