Written on: 7 October 2021
Written by: Anna Peart
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Your apprenticeship is your chance to shape your future career, so it’s important to think about how you can maximise the experience and set yourself up for success.
An apprenticeship is the starting point for the rest of your professional life. To make the most of the opportunity, it can be really helpful to think about your personal and professional goals, and build these into your apprenticeship from the start.
Setting goals during your apprenticeship is crucial in order to achieve your longer-term objectives. Not only will goals give you a sense of direction and something to work towards but they will also demonstrate your work ethic and show commitment to your employer. Setting goals will help your manager to understand your longer-term career ambitions so that they can work with you to achieve them.
Throughout your apprenticeship, you’ll have lots of conversations about your progress, goals, and career ambitions – whether that’s with your Learning Mentor during your review sessions, or during one-to-ones with your manager at work.
When you start your apprenticeship, we would usually suggest coming up with at least 5 long-term goals which you intend to achieve during your apprenticeship.
To get the right balance, it’s good to think about a mixture of personal and professional goals. Your professional objectives should be manageable, measurable, and relevant to your job role and apprenticeship training. It’s always a good idea to talk these through with your manager so that you can work together and ensure your objectives match up with the projects and priorities of your workplace.
You can also create personal development goals which you can use to expand your skills, habits, and capabilities. Identifying areas in which you can improve will help maximise your potential and can help you develop the softer skills you’ll need to advance your career.
One way of breaking down your goals into manageable steps and creating an action plan is by using the SMART formula. SMART objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Below, we’ll discuss the 5 different stages within this formula. SMART goals help you to organise your time, priorities, and acquisition of knowledge.
The first step of setting a detailed goal is to make it specific. A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than something more general. When setting goals, be precise: think about what, who, where, when, how, and why. Setting specific goals are more effective as they help you outline the steps you need to take to achieve them.
Assessing your progress against a measurable objective helps you stay focused, meet deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your end goal. Quantifying your goals with a clearly defined outcome makes them more manageable, tangible, and trackable. When setting a goal, ask yourself “what will success look like?” and if you can, assign a specific number to help you measure success.
It is important that you set goals that are challenging yet achievable. If your goals are practical and attainable you will be more likely to achieve them. Whilst you do want your goal to be accessible, try to create a goal which will push you and your abilities within your apprenticeship or job role.
A realistic goal is one that you are both willing to work towards and able to achieve. Think about the resources and tools you might need to achieve your goal, and chat with you manager to model your goals around the available tools, projects, and budget. While your goal may be realistic, ensure that it also represents substantial progress within your apprenticeship. If you goal is not ambitious enough, it may not be as satisfying when you achieve it.
They say that a goal without a plan is just a wish, and the same applies to a goal without a deadline. Establishing a time-bound goal creates a sense of urgency and keeps you accountable to yourself. Creating a time frame in which your goals have to be achieved by keeps your objective at the forefront of your to-do list. Set yourself a realistic time frame for each goal, as well as smaller deadlines for each milestone so that you can check your progress.
Knowing what you want to achieve by the end of your apprenticeship will benefit you greatly and give you a solid focus for the next 12-18 months. Your employer can give you advice in identifying and achieving your goals especially if you let them know of your ambitions with your apprenticeship.
Whether you’re hoping to get a distinction in an exam or progress onto a level 4 apprenticeship, setting yourself SMART goals will improve your chances of achieving your dreams.