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  1. #1

    New apprentice: Work fast or take time to learn?

    Hello all,

    I've almost completed my first year as an apprentice with a commercial HVAC company. I have no prior experience, and absolutely LOVE the amount of things there are to learn in this industry. I'm constantly being given new responsibilities that force me to read and learn new things. But I always feel the pull of 1) wanting to get the job done in a timely manner to keep my boss/coworkers happy, while 2) taking my time to learn everything to the fullest extent. Any of you remember going through this at the beginning (or now)?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Upper Michigan
    Posts
    3,589
    We keep learning everyday, so once you learn one thing it opens up 4 more doors. There is a line you have to walk, get the job done but it's also got to work, you learn fast when you have to do it twice.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    3,124
    Simply put, ya gotta do both. If you have a supervisor you work directly with, ask them plainly what their expectations are for the task they've given you. It may take you longer 'cause you're new, but it'll help you get a gauge on how long it should take to get things done. Try to focus on quality work that doesn't create unnecessary service calls for others. Think creatively and use common sense. Learn them backwards and forwards, but don't get rigidly caught up in textbooks. Read HVAC-Talk diligently (I am 100% serious on this one).

    OJT is valuable, but don't abuse it. I volunteered some time when I was starting out. I offered to go help off the clock on the big jobs that I had never done before just to get the exposure. I'm not saying that's what you should do, or even that it's right. All I'm saying is that's what it took for me. Your results may vary.
    "There is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals."

    -Thomas Jefferson

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Fremont, Indiana
    Posts
    1,672
    Quote Originally Posted by Tech Rob View Post
    I offered to go help off the clock on the big jobs that I had never done before just to get the exposure.
    I got in trouble doing this very thing when I worked union!
    Go figure!


    sent from my Samsung Galaxy Note
    Member of the "Work Exchange Program"
    "Will work for knowledge"

    "Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid"
    A Einstein

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    3,124
    Quote Originally Posted by kamersoutdoor View Post
    I got in trouble doing this very thing when I worked union!
    Go figure!


    sent from my Samsung Galaxy Note
    I always felt like the fat girl at the dance when I was on these jobs. Not many people took me up on it, they always had some excuse like "Oh, well it's a really small mechanical room", or "We're gonna be really busy"...

    Luckily, my supervisors saw it as a sign of dedication to learning my craft.
    "There is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals."

    -Thomas Jefferson

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Atlanta GA area
    Posts
    21,581
    Quote Originally Posted by HVAC_Austin View Post
    Hello all,

    I've almost completed my first year as an apprentice with a commercial HVAC company. I have no prior experience, and absolutely LOVE the amount of things there are to learn in this industry. I'm constantly being given new responsibilities that force me to read and learn new things. But I always feel the pull of 1) wanting to get the job done in a timely manner to keep my boss/coworkers happy, while 2) taking my time to learn everything to the fullest extent. Any of you remember going through this at the beginning (or now)?
    Get your post count up to 15, then apply for PRO status. You have not seen anything until you get behind the PRO door.
    Specifically the Educational Forums... you will be like a kid in a candy store.
    Note: The folks who approve "pro's" are volunteers... so it takes some time (like weeks), be patient.
    GA-HVAC-Tech

    Quality work at a fair price with excellent customer service!

    Romans Ch's 5-6-7-8

    2 Chronicles 7:14

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Joplin,Missouri
    Posts
    310
    In my opinion you have to always work efficiently but never sacrifice quality work three months after a changeout nobody will remember you went a couple hours over the bid but that work will be seen for years to come. So always do your absolute best work even if it takes a little longer. Thats my opinion anyway

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Kent, WA.
    Posts
    189
    ahh the never ending need to feel like getting a job done in a timely manner. it never goes away, heck yesterday i had a simple blower motor change to do in a hydronic ceiling hung heat pump. this job was not easy at all, had to lower the unit to get access to anything, cut into some ductwork to get to screws. took three times as long as it should have. Just remember you are an apprentice, your wages are lower than a journeyman for a reason. OJT and books/reading will serve you well. If they give you new responsibilities then you are doing well, I know guys that have done nothing but belts and filters for their first 3-4 years of their apprenticeship.
    Experience
    Is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted.

    A positive attidude will not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worthwhile.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Southeastern Pa
    Posts
    19,325
    I find it encouraging that you actually took time to ask this question of us.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Tech Rob View Post
    I always felt like the fat girl at the dance when I was on these jobs. Not many people took me up on it, they always had some excuse like "Oh, well it's a really small mechanical room", or "We're gonna be really busy"...

    Luckily, my supervisors saw it as a sign of dedication to learning my craft.
    I get the same response sometimes. Coworkers would often rather work with someone who is more experienced (unless it's something like demolition of an old unit). But I find the boss is perfectly happy having my lower wages involved in jobs that were actually bidded with journeymen in mind.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Lamar, SC
    Posts
    612
    I am pretty much fresh out of school also, been in the field for almost six months now. I started out riding with the lead tech, after one week he told the owner I was good enough, then retired and they gave me a van. You learn a lot by getting thrown into the fire like that. Just like everything else that has your name or reputation on it the most important thing is that it be done right. Keep that in mind first, and then being quicker at it will come with experience ( I am much faster now than six months ago). I would say that is much more desirable than being fast and hoping accuracy will come with experience.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    between here and over there
    Posts
    453
    If your a greenhorn to the trade your boss should understand that your not going to move like his top tech. take the time now to find your pace, learn the role of your job and speed will come with time. if you rush through a job and not understanding what your doing you'll never learn. you'll find something new to learn everyday. as you gain experience and the confidence it will come more easy to you.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Broomall, PA
    Posts
    440
    Lot's of great advice, and yes all of us (I'm pretty sure) have felt like that. For me, the most important thing I did was constantly ask "why". I always have to know the exact, technically correct way. If you know the "why" in your head, you'll pick up speed on the mechanical side.
    And this site is fantastic to not only learn the correct way to do things, but other ways of doing things, and to ask lots of questions. Everyone on here likes to help. Also don't be afraid to venture into the forums that have nothing to do with your trade specifically. Lots of pleasant surprises there too.
    Good luck

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