Life is interesting … In everything we do we get placed in a box with a label on it − you are an introvert or extrovert, socialite or socially awkward, silent or talkative. In the same way, as a trainee you get a label, but it depends on you in which box you will end up


The drama queen/king

This trainee always has a huge issue about their work, and this is not an isolated event. With every engagement and or project, you can anticipate at least one or two huge problems, which mostly turn out to be either the trainee’s way of asking for help or warning you that they are about to miss their deadline.

This type of trainee should take a step back and evaluate if the problem is really so ‘huge’ before involving their seniors or managers. They might just surprise themselves by figuring it out and learning from the process.


The worker bee trainee

This trainee will always take on more work, regardless if they are currently overloaded and struggling to keep up with their current responsibilities. They seldom say no or try to explain that they cannot take on more work. This usually leads to them working long hours (which could have been avoided) and rushed or lower standard work because they have too much on their plates.

This trainee should learn how to prioritise and that saying the word ‘no’ is not the end of your career. But mostly, they need to learn to ask for help before it is too late.


The overachiever trainee

Practical implementation and understanding of the work usually come more naturally to this type of trainee. They learn quickly and can work faster than other trainees. Often these trainees will advance faster in their training than some of their colleagues, and this gives them kind of a big head. They do not mean for it to happen, but it shows in the way they treat their colleagues and address their seniors.

This trainee should take a step back, think about how their natural ability to understand and work faster affects the others around them, and rather than become big-headed they should redirect their energy in helping their colleagues.

However, these trainees are a good teaching asset − often first-year trainees feel embarrassed to ask their seniors too many questions and appreciate a fellow first-year trainee’s assistance.


The background trainee

This trainee tends to blend into the background − they do not ask a lot of questions, they don’t engage with their colleagues, they keep their heads down and do their work. Often these trainees’ development takes longer than that of other trainees, mainly because they don’t ask questions and don’t ask for assistance.

Trainees need to remember their seniors went through the same things they are going through. They need to find a senior they are comfortable with to ask questions if they are reluctant to do so in a group situation and confide in that person. They must not let their development be influenced by their social comfort.


The sloth trainee

You will always get this type of employee no matter where you go, and unfortunately no training programme is free of sloth trainees. These trainees do as little as possible in the longest time they can; they never take on more work than was originally given to them; and they don’t volunteer to help other trainees or assist others if they are not instructed to do so and even then, they do it as quickly as possible regardless if it helped the other person. This is the kind of trainee that comes to the office/client because they must; they also generally do not show enthusiasm to learn new skills or develop their current skill base.

These trainees need to do some self-evaluation. They need to decide why they have entered the training programme if they are not enthusiastic or willing to learn and participate in a team. They need to evaluate if they are in the right line of work.


‘Your’ box

The reality is that after about six months, both seniors and managers have placed you as a trainee in a box and labelled you based on their experience with you. Getting out of that box usually takes a lot of effort, so before you walk into the office on your first day, think about what kind of trainee you want to be because this can set the tone to your training for the next few years and shape the person you are the day you walk out with your designation.

AUTHOR │ Chantal Potgieter AGSA, Registered Tax Practitioner, BComp Acc Science, is Audit Manager at Diastoleus Professio Incorporated