Last week, we finally found a second apprentice and completed our team lineup for 2010. Simon Mönch will be joining us from May 1st to learn the craft of software development and Jessica Lazarus starts her apprenticeship for digital media design on August 1st.
Cheekily, we're using this as an excuse to formulate a set of guidelines for apprentices, but of course the following concepts apply to everyone on the team.
Look, Listen & Learn
There's a lot to learn! Look around and listen to what the other team members do and say. Try to follow up on concepts and resources (articles, books, videos, ..) that get mentioned.
Be curious and enthusiastic
We're all of us grinning (slightly mad) and on our toes most of the time, because the web is such a fascinating environment with so many changes and improvements every day. Try and add your enthusiasm to the mix, and stay ahead of trends in your main areas of interest.
Being on time in the morning and with your deadlines (if you get assigned any) is a sign of professionalism and shows your respect for the team and the work we do.
Being organised doesn't only mean to try and keep a clean desk. You also have to organise your files, scribbles and, most of all, thoughts. If you have a problem, try to solve it yourself first and, if that fails, think about what exactly you need to know to be able to continue on your own. We call this the art of asking good questions.
Set yourself goals you can achieve
Apart from completing the tasks you are given within our range of projects, it helps to set yourself learning goals. Which skill do you want to aquire next? Take notes about what helps you to learn or work faster, and what doesn't.
Work hard to stay on top of your tasks. This doesn't mean you need to put in overtime everyday, but you need to focus on what you are doing, pay attention to feedback and keep distractions to a minimum.
At the end of each week, take a little break and ask yourself "What was the single most important thing I learned this week?". Write one or two (not more!) sentences about it into a dedicated notebook.
Don't be afraid to ask
Finally, talk to us. There are no bad or stupid questions – in fact, the most stupid question is the one you didn't ask. Open up and consider the critique you're getting. If you have a strong opinion about something that differs from what other team members say, don't lecture them but engage in a healthy discussion. Often, both sides can gain from this.