15/08/2013 09:09 BST | Updated 15/10/2013 06:12 BST

What I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Apprenticeship

I've been an apprentice on the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation's Leadership Through Sport programme for one year and the time has flown by.

During that time and as part of the programme, I've been given the opportunity to meet inspirational people from the likes of Ledley King to Stuart Humphreys, mentor and coach primary school children, study Level two and three of the AAT Accounting Qualification and work at a big city organisation - ICAP.

It's opened my eyes to the world of work, and made me appreciate more than ever the importance of getting work experience and having a goal to work towards. The programme has opened up avenues and when my apprenticeship finishes in September I'll have the chance to pursue a new direction - whether it is in accounting, sport, business or any other area.

But no matter how much you think you're prepared for these opportunities, there are always things that surprise you. As school leavers around the country prepare to collect their A-Level and GCSE results this month, I thought I'd share my advice and what I wish I knew before starting my apprenticeship.

You can't know everything

At the start of a new job, there's a lot to take in and a lot to learn - especially in a large organisation. It's overwhelming but no one expects you to know everything. It's natural to ask questions and learn as you go along.

An apprenticeship is not all about 'work'

There are high standards and a strong working attitude at ICAP and I expected that. But a lot of the skills that I've picked up along the way haven't been directly related to the working world. It might sound obvious but simple things like knowing how to communicate appropriately through email and interpersonally with your colleagues, listening and paying attention to detail, and appreciating and respecting people's time - are all vital skills that contribute to your success at work.

Treasure the breaks you get

After years of school education, you become used to having lots of breaks and holidays but once you're in the working world it's a luxury that you'll no longer have. I took this for granted at first and now know that you have to make the most of your leave, long weekends and bank holidays. Sometimes you might even have to use it to catch up on study but try and reboot and reenergise where you can.

Don't forget about your qualification

The job market is changing and more employers want people with experience, but it's equally important to support that experience with a relevant qualification. It's easy to become overwhelmed by the nine to five working world (especially in your first job) but everything is interlinked in an apprenticeship so take your studies seriously.

I'm nearly finished Level three of the AAT Accounting Qualification and it's really supported everything I've seen and experienced at work. It's given me a base knowledge of accounting and an understanding of fundamental concepts such as sub-ledgers, general ledgers, and more. These are all concepts that have helped me to understand the financial systems used within ICAP.

People want you to surprise them

I've often heard employers say that they've been blown away by how hard-working and enthusiastic their apprentices have been. It's amazing what a 'can do' attitude will do for your career. By embracing each opportunity and grabbing hold with two hands - you'll come across as a motivated individual who takes their apprenticeship seriously. Only good things can come from that.

The Tottenham Hotspur Foundation's Leadership Through Sport programme aims to assist young adults to become leaders and ambassadors in their communities by creating life-changing opportunities.

Applications are now open for the 2013/2014 programme. If you're in interested in joining as an apprentice, or as an employer looking to take on a young person then get in touch. Visit or email Nazia Khaliq