Age you entered trade and how
I started my apprenticeship when I was 19. I had worked and travelled for 2 years after I finished school… and after giving uni a test run, I just knew this was not the correct pathway for me. I applied for the Pre-vocational (career start) Certificate 2 in Electrotechnology, At TafeSA – and was accepted, just as I arrived home from South Korea. There, I attended 40 contact hours a week, for 8 weeks straight (unpaid!!) This included 2 weeks of work experience with 2 electrical companies - both of which offered me apprenticeships. I signed on the dotted line with one… and away we went.
What attracted you to your trade
Many things attracted me to my trade – And continue to do so. From the problem solving that comes with a peculiar fault, the calculations and figures that will determine your time, cost and materials, the ever changing work environments, keeping you moving around and physical fit; or the unlimited potential to study an travel anywhere in the world…! Not to mention the self empowerment and economic security… It all makes for an enticing and satisfying career choice.
What challenges did you face
Apart from being the only female out on the tools, being a tradesperson comes with it’s own form of challenges and discrimination. Our country seems to have a disappointing ingrained mentality that only people who can’t go to uni /didn’t make the cut, take up trades - they are deemed a “fall back” careers. Coming from a private school education and a white collar family, the amount of people who uninhibitedly laughed in my face when I told them I was going to be an electrician, was quite astounding and disappointing. Hopefully through my success, both as a female and a tradie, the mentality of my critics has been drastically altered.
What kept you going
What kept me going the most, was keeping my eye on the prize. Sure, getting up and going to work at 5 am on your Sunday’s isn’t that enticing, Going to work on a construction site with 40 blokes and 1 portoloo is even worse…Digging cable trenches, well, they aren’t so bad, but you pick up what I’m putting down. As confronting or challenging as some days were, I always knew in the back of my mind that once I had my piece of paper, the world would be my oyster J And I wasn’t wrong.
What makes you really proud
Getting a job on the Gorgon Project on Barrow Island has made me really proud. Right from the start of my apprenticeship, FIFO was what I wanted to do – So to have a job on the largest resources project in Australia’s history, I’m a very happy Lady Tradie. Also, from my position, and occupation, being able to engage with and inspire other young women into trades has been an unreal experience… and of course, recently winning the CMEWA 2015 WIR Outstanding Tradesperson award – very humbling.
What do you believe are the benefits of working in a trade as opposed to more tradition employment
Working in a trade is not for everyone… but for my type of person, there is no career out there than comes close to comparing. I love that I’m out doors, moving around, keeping fit. I love the problem solving and the fault finding and the end product, which is generally helping someone out. I like the job security and the flexibility that comes with the qualification, and the potential for employment and further education in locations all around the world. I like the empowerment that comes with handling the tools, operating the machines and the confidence to branch out to try new things. I also like the equal financial remuneration of working in a trade – Not only do I not have a HECS debt, but I’m getting paid exactly the same as the guy working next to me – which is becoming a more and more disappointing percentage gap as the years progress.
What do you do in your spare time
Working a construction roster of 26/9 doesn’t leave too much spare time, but when I’m not working, I like to read newspapers and work out at the gyms on site.
On my breaks I love to travel and visit my family all over Australia, I love to go out dancing and trying different cafes for brunch each day.
Young women are more capable than they are given credit for, and if you need a visual role model for a trade, Here I am. If I can do it, you can do it. I won’t tell you it will be easy, but I will tell you that it will be worth it 🙂