19 Jul 2013

Q&A: Should I Take up an Associate Trainee Programme?

As a fresh graduate looking for my first job, I recently received an offer from a company for a position under their Associate Trainee Programme (ATP) for six months, after which they’ll review my performance and consider whether to upgrade me to a full-time position. Should I accept?


One problem with being an Associate Trainee is that it places you in the grey area between being an intern and being recognised as a full-time staff.

While not as widely publicised as internships, ATPs (or their equivalents) offer fresh graduates a chance to gain accepted working experience while the company can hedge their risks when deciding if you are suitable for a full-time position. Although an ATP is usually more financially rewarding than an internship, you may receive less guidance on the job and your job responsibilities will be greater, akin to that of a permanent staff.

Even if there is considerable pressure from both family and peers to secure a position after your graduation (however temporary), here are some factors to consider:

What’s The Job Market Like?
With a growing number of graduates, relevant experience and skills are fast becoming the differentiating factor in securing employment. As a fresh graduate, your lack of work experience will severely limit your job options, so you may wish to use this ATP to beef up your portfolio and improve your employability. If you perform well, you may even secure a full-time job with them at the end of it, thus saving you the trouble of further job-hunting.


Does It Pay Enough?
The salary of an associate trainee is often significantly lower than that of a full-time staff, so you’ll need to consider carefully if this is enough to tide you by. If you’re struggling to pay off your student loans and other bills, then perhaps you may be better off holding out to secure a full-time job with a stable, higher income.


Is The Experience Relevant?
If the ATP work responsibilities are related to a field where you want to carve out a career, it’s probably worth a shot. It will be good exposure for you, allowing you to learn the tricks of the trade and offering you new perspectives into a particular industry. If nothing else, this knowledge you’ve picked up will certainly be useful in your future work in similar positions.


Will This Improve Your Future Career Prospects?
Even if you do not get hired at the end of an ATP, you’ll have (hopefully) gained invaluable work experience and picked up useful professional skills, which you should list in your resume. Taken together, your ATP stint might just grant you that extra edge over your competitors when applying for your next job.

Contributed by JobsCentral Pte Ltd