I knew it might be a challenging but great alternative to a uni pathway. My thought process was I would be able to learn a practical skill, whilst earning money and at the end of it I would come out of it with a guaranteed qualification.
Hi my name is Jules,
I started my electrical apprenticeship in 2018 after beginning a uni degree and realizing it was completely wrong for me.
Ever since I can remember uni was always my ambition after I finished year 12. This could've been because I grew up thinking that was the best option after leaving school. Even when I spoke to my career advisor in year 12, uni was what was advocated and never once an option of an apprenticeship brought up. Neither was there anyone who came around to schools to promote trades to the general cohort. This is what led me to jumping straight into a uni despite not having a clear career path in mind or being particularly passionate in the degree I had chosen.
After uni not working out, I ended up taking the rest of the year as a gap year. After that year I was still very uncertain with what I wanted to do. I knew I didn't want to return to uni so I began looking at other options. I'm not sure how I came to the decision of a trade but it seemed like the most logical choice, I liked to be on my feet and apply theory knowledge to a practical situation. I knew it might be a challenging but great alternative to a uni pathway. My thought process was I would be able to learn a practical skill, whilst earning money and at the end of it I would come out of it with a guaranteed qualification. Even before joining the industry, I was aware of how heavily male dominated the it is but I was fairly comfortable with the idea. I've got a positive attitude and work ethic and knew those traits would help me fit in.
When I started considering an apprenticeship, being a sparky seemed most logical for my goals. It involved science which I had liked at school, one of the higher paying trades, physical but not as heavy lifting as other trades would require, and had potential career branchways. I applied online in the spur of the moment kind of way. I just googled electrical apprenticeships Canberra and filled out an application form and hoped for the best. A couple days later I got a call from the company. I had an interview and that was it, they were happy to take me on, I just had to get my white card and asbestos awareness card. After that I started with them in January and that was how I got my foot in the door of the construction industry. Since then I have changed companies but it was just breaking down that barrier and realising that the option to be a Tradie was out there that changed everything for me.
I've always been treated well by the companies that I've worked for. It's only been this year in my apprenticeship that I've been introduced to organisations like NAWIC which I'm very enthusiastic about and happy to be part of. I can see how they are trying to really drive more women involvement in the construction industry through raising awareness which is great and create a more equitable workplace for women already a part of the industry. I think the biggest difference I've noticed since starting to now is popular tradie clothing brands now have a women’s range. When I first started I would wear men’s sizing which fitted awful.
Getting my Working at Heights license was an accomplishment that I am proud of achieving during my apprenticeship. This was required for a Manuka project where my company was fixings the light towers. The job required me to be harnessed up and working 45m above ground. I was originally the spotter on the ground but when the job required more of us to have the license to do the work, I asked my work Martin Donnelly to put me through the course. It was daunting the idea of working so high, but the first day up on the towers I was super stoked and proud of myself.
I have no regrets doing my apprenticeship. Before starting, I didn't know the difference between a Phillips Heads screwdriver or a Flat Head screwdriver, so if you think you need to have background experience in the industry you don't! It’s been challenging, but the hard days are what makes me appreciate my job. I'm always proud to say that I'm a Tradie and prove to people that anyone can be one. It’s a great industry to be a part of. I'm keen to see my future within it and where it will take me.