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Published on October 4, 2018

What Is an Apprenticeship and What Value Can It Bring to Your Career?

What Is an Apprenticeship and What Value Can It Bring to Your Career?

A few months after graduating high school, my mother decided to entrust me into the services of a well-known hair stylist in my neighborhood. Her reasoning was that I’d fall in love with the art of making others look beautiful and combine it with whatever career I choose to settle in.

It was the perfect dream; a college-educated journalist with a hair styling side-gig. My pathway to this dream was an apprenticeship program.

In this article, I’ll talk about what an apprenticeship really is and how you can benefit your career from it.

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship is a system that allows you to get paid while you’re trained for the skills needed to succeed in your career.

Call it what you want; skilled-trade, blue-collar jobs, vocational education, or the career path less traveled, apprenticeship can be your ticket to your dream job.

Not only does it allow you to step into the occupation of your dreams, you actually earn a wage while learning on the job, and can decide if it is the right fit for you without investing thousands like you normally would at a traditional college.

The differences between apprenticeships and internships

What comes close to apprenticeship is internships but with a difference. While internships are usually set up as a way to practice what you’ve learned in school before you become employed, with apprenticeship, you’re already a worker. You’re getting paid to learn. This means less risk for student loans and other college-related expenses to accumulate only to discover that you have an unclear career path.

Apprenticeships also give you longer term, real on-the-job experiences which are directly tied to what you learn in the classroom. These training are very structured and by the time you are done with your learning, you’re almost guaranteed to be hired on as a full-time worker.

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Internships on the other hand are very short-term and despite the fact that you do walk away with lifelong skills, they do not always lead to job offers.

Some internships are unpaid or might give you a stipend in exchange for you time. Apprenticeships, however, due to their competitive nature, are similar to regular employment. They pay more than internships and some programs attract top candidates with benefit packages including health insurance, paid vacations, paid holidays, and pension plans.

Misconception about being an apprentice

It is no secret that apprenticeships are less popular than they used to.

For some occupations, becoming an apprentice was the only way to pass the knowledge and skills down to the next generation as there aren’t many colleges that offer credit courses. Careers in the shipbuilding, carpentry, welding, plumbing, and textile industries all have history dating back to apprenticeship and family traditions.

Today, we are seeing an impressive comeback of these programs and classes but with more sophistication.

Unfortunately there are some barriers to apprenticeship regaining its lost glory as:

It’s a slave-master relationship.

When the word apprentice is uttered, the first image that pops up is that of an unfortunate or reluctant person forced to wash, clean, cook, and run errands just to have his or her master pass on trade skills.

Many apprenticeship programs are registered and monitored to ensure the welfare of apprentices. The fear that you would be taken advantage of is unfounded.

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Labor laws are followed and respected, and like any other workplace, grievances can be filed if your rights have been infringed upon.

Apprentices are uneducated.

There is still a recurring myth that apprentices are sent to “hole in the wall” shops where masters drill all the mechanics of a job into your skull.

Today, apprenticeship programs are legally recognized and have agencies that regulate their operation. Some programs are not only more selective than most Ivy colleges, they are tuition-free and once accepted, graduates can go on to receive associates or bachelors degrees through partnerships with universities.[1]

Apprenticeship programs provide you an alternative pathway to college education and works for most industries. For instance, they prepare you for high-demand occupations in healthcare like being a pharmacy technician, a paramedic, or an emergency medical technician (EMT).

You can’t make a living as a “blue collar” worker.

While it is almost inconceivable that an apprentice would earn the same wage as a physician, most apprentices go on to build financially stable lives.

But the fact that being an apprentice is afterthought in the event of failure is a false stereotype.

Laurent Camera, education reporter for U.S. News writes that:[2]

“According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average wage for an individual who has completed an apprenticeship is $50,000, which over a lifetime can add up to approximately $300,000 more in wages and benefits compared with their peers.”

This is definitely a far cry from the poverty-stricken stories you hear about apprentices.

How apprenticeship can bring value to your career

1. You get very close to what you REALLY want to do in your chosen field.

Unlike certain internships where you’re sometimes relegated to grunt work and would need to seek permission before you could get close to the interesting parts, you’re fully thrust into your field of work from day one.

With this early involvement, you get the sense of fulfillment faster than you would’ve if you waited 4 years to experience what your career entails.

At the same time, you also have the chance to back out from a career if you discover that you’ve quickly fallen out of love with your chosen field.

For example, remember my brief stint as a beauty apprentice? It didn’t work out. After about 6 months of reporting to a hair salon and learning the intricacies of braiding, I quit.

I soon discovered that I didn’t love my job and not only saved myself from exorbitant fees at a 2-year beauty college, I saved my employer some precious time in the process.

So, how do you get REALLY close to apprenticeship opportunities?

  • Visit community and technical colleges. The best move is to visit your state technical colleges. Most times, these institutions have partnerships with local employers who systematically feed graduates into their workforce through a structured training.
  • Visit your local library. Another equally good move is to visit your local library and ask to speak with a job specialist. Libraries have always been underrated but is a goldmine for opportunities in career development.
  • Search for apprenticeship opportunities online. We’re no longer dealing with “hole in the wall” shops. Most employers have taken their apprenticeship programs online and will publicly provide contact information should you wish to speak with a live person.

2. Employers crave loyalty and dedication. Apprenticeship programs highlight these qualities in you.

Being an apprentice builds character in ways ordinary jobs or internships cannot. It takes anywhere from 2 to 5 years to successfully graduate from a decent apprenticeship program. That’s a lot of time dedicated to honing your craft, gaining highly specialized skills, and building your career from entry-level to middle class income without job-hopping.

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While the nature of apprenticeships itself dissuades job-hopping due to the lengthy period, it takes commitment, patience and perseverance to stick with a 4-year apprenticeship program to receive professional certifications.

This allow companies to look inside the organization for top-performing employees who can be trained for leadership and managerial roles or promoted in times of growth and expansion.

3. You can bridge the “skills gap” in the economy.

Most employers bemoan the lack of qualified candidates in the labor market due to factors such as weak educational programs, lackluster internship experiences, and poor job fit.

Other times, it’s due to a shortage of highly-skilled workers and a surplus of low-skilled workers. Upskilling with apprenticeship can solve this problem.

We are already seeing reports of a likely shortage of approximately 40 million high- skilled workers and 45 million medium-skill workers by 2020.[3] By focusing on specific skill-set, employers have exactly what they want at the right time and how they want it.

If you are currently employed and would love to gain additional certifications, ask your employer if there are work-and-learn programs that can help you bridge this gap. Most companies are willing invest in employees’ professional development if there is ambition and commitment displayed from the employee.

The bottom line

You are just be one step away from the career of your dreams. There are apprenticeship programs out there looking for enthusiastic workers, and you might be the perfect fit.

Featured photo credit: Jonathan Weiss via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

Margaret Olatunbosun

Creative coach to high achievers and creatives

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Last Updated on October 17, 2018

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get plenty of sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

How much sleep should you be getting?

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Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

Yes, there are.

Try these three things:

  • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
  • Don’t eat too late
  • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

3. Challenge your brain

When was the last time you challenged your brain?

I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

  • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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4. Take more breaks

When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

However, I was wrong.

Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

Let me explain.

Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

What’s the answer?

Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

5. Learn a new skill

I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

Let me give you an example of this:

Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

6. Start working out

If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

Not a problem.

A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

Interested in getting started?

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Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

  • Join a gym
  • Join a sports team
  • Buy a bike
  • Take up hiking
  • Dance to your favorite music

7. Eat healthier foods

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

This applies to your brain too.

The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

  • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
  • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
  • Nuts – improves memory
  • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
  • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

Reference

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