Automotive apprentice Sarah Benfell worked in hospitality for several years prior to starting a family. By age 26, with two children, Sarah decided she was ready to start fresh and find daytime work.
She googled “daytime work” and the search results were all trades and apprenticeships. So she phoned some trade businesses to see if she could come and find out more about them.
The only one who got back to her was an auto electrician, who invited her to come and see what was involved. She did, and she liked what she saw. Her mentor’s advice was to enrol in a pre-trade course and so she signed up for the next available intake at SIT.
Sarah embarked on the Certificate in Automotive Engineering in 2014. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made.” Juggling studying and family life was a challenge at times, but also part of her motivation. “They soon get into the routine – you just have to be organised,” she says. “I want to show my kids I can do something worthwhile.”
The next challenge was finding an employer to take her on for work experience. She approached several places in Gore without success. Finally she went into Christie Diamond Auto Ltd and “they didn’t judge me at all. They took my number and the boss invited me to come in, then it was all go!”
At the completion of her course, Sarah started working full time at Christie’s and she is thoroughly enjoying working towards her apprenticeship. “I’m keeping up with the paperwork so far. The guys are really encouraging, they’re always like, ‘you can do it Sarah!’.”
“Some people say to me – are you really sure this is what you want to do? I say ‘Yes!’ My nails are black, my hands are stained, but I don’t care. Every day I learn something new. It feels so amazing to know how everything works.”