Having no experience of using any hand tools or power tools I was extremely nervous, anxious and didn’t know what to expect... As time progressed, I became more comfortable with the work, environment and my colleagues, the handle and use of tools, and gained many skills and knowledge.
My journey started when I was in college. Not certain of what my future career would look like, didn’t know who else besides my family to talk to about the future, career advisors didn’t have much information to offer me and never mentioned anything about the building and construction industry. I always knew I worked best with hands-on work and something associated with creativity. I was drawn into studying architecture. My interest and fascination for architecture grew and so I decided to pursue with architecture at university. Three years of university and I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture at the University of Canberra in 2016. Throughout my university life I developed an inkling of wanting to do more than just design. I became intrigued with how buildings are constructed. Continuing to do a master’s degree wasn’t for me, and so I tried looking for work experiences.
Unfortunately, this was a long, difficult and depleting moment in my life. I applied for jobs and never heard back from them, applied for construction programs designed for women and yet I was told I was ineligible because I had a university degree, I felt like I was stuck in a rut. I had no connections with anyone in both the architecture and construction industry. I didn’t know who I could talk to or where else to find information for career pathways into both these industries.
Through perseverance, it took me two years until I stumbled across a social media post, a Women in Trades Program hosted by Master Builders ACT (MBA). This was a four-week insight program to carpentry, plumbing, civil construction and electrical occupations. It included formal training, presentations from industry employers, employees, life coaches and construction site visits. Seeing this made me eager to participate but I hesitated, I contacted MBA, afraid of another rejection, and asked if I was eligible to participate in the program. Heard back from them and they said to come along to their information night. From here I felt like there was a glimmer of hope.
Here it was, this was my breakthrough. I signed up for the Women in Trades Program and was really drawn towards carpentry. The program was extremely insightful, I met amazing people, inspired by their stories and for the first time ever I had a mentor. This was a light bulb moment for me and felt like the right path to pursue with, so after the completion of the program I decided to start my apprenticeship with MBA. I couldn’t have done this without the support of my family.
I started my apprenticeship in September 2018 and worked in a commercial company. Having no experience of using any hand tools or power tools I was extremely nervous, anxious and didn’t know what to expect. To my surprise, the first day turned out well, everyone was welcoming. As time progressed, I became more comfortable with the work, environment and my colleagues, the handle and use of tools, and gained many skills and knowledge. I did office fit outs and worked on large government buildings.
Towards the end of my first year of my apprenticeship, July 2019, I was very blessed to have the opportunity to work overseas. Never would I have thought I would have an opportunity like this. I had proven to myself that hard work does go a long way. Working overseas for four-weeks was an unbelievable experience and I am very grateful for it.
At the start of 2020 I joined the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) mentoring program. This was a great experience, I was partnered with a great mentor, it helped me with my career development, and I met amazing people who have lots of knowledge and experiences in this industry.
Halfway into my apprenticeship I decided I wanted to broaden my skills and knowledge by going into residential construction. I transitioned from the commercial company and for a few months I worked with a company specifying in aluminium fences, gates and pergolas. After completion of the NAWIC mentoring program, August 2020, my mentor offered me a job to work with her as she works in the residential sector doing renovations and extensions. It was a great achievement for myself to have the opportunity to gain experiences in both the commercial and residential sectors. In April 2021 a job opportunity came up and was to do with management. I wasn’t expecting to try management until a little later into the future but as the timing of this job opportunity came about, I thought I’d give this a go. It’s been a big learning experience so far but I can definitely say I’ve improved and have grown both personally and professionally.
Throughout my apprenticeship I have participated in multiple interviews and a short film ‘Redraw the Balance ACT 2019,’ it’s about my experiences as a female in the construction industry and to encourage females to give it go. I was also featured on the ABC news, the radio and I was a speaker at the NAWIC 2021 Success Series Part 1. I participate in these events to challenge myself, constantly step out of my comfort zone, build on my self-confidence, develop professionally and personally, and hope to inspire females.
My journey to this day has been extremely challenging, rewarding and overall, phenomenal. Having known no one or seen any female tradie in this industry from the very beginning, to working in a male dominated industry and having setbacks from work experiences to where I am now is unbelievable. I have met so many incredible people from all walks of life and I am very honoured to have received the NAWIC ACT Tradeswomen of the year 2020. Just goes to show if you’re willing to put in the hard work and effort, along with perseverance you will accomplish great things in life. The more difficult the challenge the greater the reward.
I hope I can inspire females of any age, income level, social status, and ethnicity to work in construction. I will support and do my best to help make their journey and career development successful. In life, we always go through highs and lows, but it’s whether you are determined to pick yourself up and persevere. I know I have struggled and failed many times. All my experiences have allowed me to learn valuable lessons and skills.