Legally, you can now leave school at the age of 16 to start an apprenticeship. If you’re looking to work in childcare, this means that you can start working in a position such as a nursery assistant whilst getting paid to learn all the skills you need to carry out your role.
However, school and work have completely different responsibilities and it may take some time to adjust to these changes. Here are just a few ways your working life will be different to your current routine at school:
When at school, you’re only there for 6 hours Monday-Friday (not including any after-school activities) meaning that you have the evenings and weekends to yourself. You also get 14 weeks of school holidays – giving you a lot more time off than the average 23 days you get when you’re at work.
When employed on a full-time basis you could work on a shift rota in a nursery for up to 8 hours a day, depending on your role, and the rest of your time is your own. However, whilst doing your apprenticeship you’ll still need to dedicate some of your time to your coursework in the evenings and weekends.
Although at school you get to see your friends during the day, with work you get to spend the day with your colleagues in a (sometimes) more relaxed environment, and often these people can be your friends.
When you’re at school, the work that you produce determines your overall grade, only affecting you. However, when you go into work, what you produce and the amount affects your entire team and their targets. This means that you need to be prepared to reach harder deadlines and put more effort in during the day to ensure that you’re keeping up.
Your workplace will also have their own policies about smoking, absence and a dress code; you’ll want to read these before starting the company so that you know what is expected of you – they often include a code of conduct which outlines how you should behave in the work environment.
At school your rewards are the results you get at the end of it; the certificates with your grades, knowing that you’ve worked hard to achieve something and that these grades are what will help you progress further.
In the working world, rewards take a slightly different form: hopefully you’re doing a job because you enjoy it and therefore working in itself is the reward. There are other rewards associated with working such as the opportunity to develop transferable skills, meet more people and you get paid for it!
When going into the world of work, the thing to remember is you get out what you put in: if you make friends, go to work every day and produce enough work to hit your targets, not only will you feel more motivated, you’ll achieve more rewards and could even get a promotion!