What an apprentice should know their first day.

The first day for any apprentice is rough.

 You’re nervous.  This just isn’t a job, as an apprentice, you are starting a whole new career.  Here are 5 things every apprentice should consider when considering their first day.

1)  Show up with tools:

You know what?  There is a chance you aren’t going to use them.  In fact, it might be a while before you need them.  I hate to break it to you but for the first little bit, as an electrical apprentice, you are going to be nothing but a glorified laborer (remember there is nothing wrong with this, we all start at the bottom and work our way up). 

For my first month, all I did was glue pipe together.

Showing up with your tools shows that you are taking this job seriously and that you came prepared.  Trust me this does not go unnoticed.

2)  Keep your mouth shut and your ears open: 

OFUCyN

When you show up for your first day as an electrical apprentice you are as low as it gets in a lot of these guys eyes.  They are going to assume that you are an idiot right off the hop.  I’m sorry but it’s true, most tradesmen equate a first-day electrical apprentice with a kindergarten student. 

Do not open your mouth and prove them right!  

Do not think that you are going to win them all over with your best jokes and charming personality on the first day.  On the work site, the only way you earn respect is by busting your butt and working hard.  Once you’ve proven you can work hard, then it’s time to turn on the charm.

Listen to what you’re being told.

Be attentive.

If you are asked to do something do it, don’t ask why and do not offer your opinions on how you think it could be done better.  Remember what I said about them thinking of you like a 5-year-old?    

3)  Ask questions:

I know this one is opposite of the last tip, but hear me out. 

If you don’t understand what is being asked of you, ask for clarification.  If you just go off and do something without being really clear on what you’re doing, you may end up doing it wrong. 

Something that is done wrong means it has to be done again.  Trust me this is not a good thing unless you want to hear a bunch of colorful metaphors and how you are related to a donkey. 

That being said don’t ask a bazillion questions and prove yourself to be annoying.  Get the clarification you need and then go get to work.

4) Once you’re done your task, ask for more:

black-and-white-man-person-streetThis one comes with a bit of a warning.  Get the job done and go looking for your superior to get your next task but don’t be annoying.  If they are busy doing something or talking to someone, grab a broom and start sweeping. 

I am serious, that broom helps you stand out from about 98% of the other apprentices! 

It shows that you’re respectful of your superiors time but that you are also there to work.  I have done this and seen it done and it works! This also goes for if you’re done and can’t find anyone to ask for more work.  Find something to clean, sweep or organize.  There is nothing more annoying than some newbie who finishes their task then sits around waiting for someone to tell them what to do.

5) Chances are it is gonna suck for a bit:

We all start at the bottom.  In the trades, there is a mentality that apprentices are less than human and should be treated as such (I’m not saying that this is right, I’m just stating a fact).  If you put the time in and prove yourself, it gets better and better.  Before you know it, you might actually be loving your job!  Of course, you may get on an awesome crew and love it from day one. 

If so, congrats, go buy a lottery ticket ;).

Anything worth having is hard work and you have to pay your dues.  You will get through this and it will get better, I promise.

Let me also say that if you are being verbally and mentally abused to the point you can’t sleep at night, get out.  The trades have come a long way since I did my apprenticeship but they still have a long way to go. 

It should be hard work, not demoralizing.

Final thoughts for an electrical apprentice

I  could write a series of books on things I wish I knew my first day.  I am sure that I have missed some things but I think these 5 are some pretty key points worth mentioning.

Show up with a great attitude and be prepared to work hard.  You do that and you’re on your way to an awesome career as an Electrician.  And hey congrats, by the way, you have chosen a fantastic future!

What about you seasoned guys out there, anything to add?  What do you wish you knew your first day on the job site?

There is no substitute for hard work

-Thomas Edison

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Comments on What an apprentice should know their first day.

  1. Floyd says:

    Well written, and good advise.

  2. Floyd says:

    Well written and good advice. Too many start with no tools, or try to impress with all their knowledge of the trade….. Wichita is usually ZERO!..Just doing the job, willingly, goes a long ways!

  3. Chad says:

    Thanks Floyd. Anything you would add?

  4. Ronnie says:

    Best advice I’ve ever heard, Same thing I told my son when he entered the trade.

    1. Chad says:

      It’s something I wish I had heard when I first started.

  5. Norris Harrington says:

    Show up with tools including offset 9s. Ask the guys how to use the 9s and take a bite with a smile.

  6. Fred Milgram says:

    If the Apprentice is asked OR TOLD to get coffee orders, he / she should not balk. Great way to meet the whole crew on a large job. You get to see how the whole job comes together from service entrance to installing finish. Coffee boy also gets tips if the coffee comes back hot and made right. Added income. As a Jman it was not below my station to fetch coffee on jobs with no helpers. It also give you a break from chipping concrete or carrying bundles of 1/2′ ridged conduit. The TIPS above are all right on the mark. Be prepared for the smart ass remarks, some ethnic remarks and some that just call you stupid. They are a test of how you respond and will eventually fit or not fit into this MACHO group. ELECTRICIANS rely on each other to STAY ALIVE. NEVER EVER JOKE ABOUT SAFETY !!!

  7. I love that you suggested to ask your superior for more work to do once you’re done with your first task. I’m going to let my good friend know about this tomorrow. He is starting an apprenticeship next month, so this is timely advice. I’m so thankful I can now help him out, thanks for the great advice!

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