It can be difficult deciding where to head with your career – one choice to make is whether to study or go straight into the workforce.
Jesse Curtis, 20, has the best of both worlds. He works as an apprentice mechanic in Sydney and studies at TAFE to get his Certificate in Automotive Engineering.
I work for the Trivett Group – Australia’s largest prestige automotive group. I work in their Porsche and Aston Martin service division.
I’m a first year apprentice service technician in Trivett’s Porsche and Aston Martin workshop.
Basically it’s a lot of on-the-job training. I’m learning the basics of how cars work, how to service them and how to fix them.
The group employs over 500 people, although in my team there are just 17 of us – 12 in the workshop and 5 in the customer service office.
I work on Porsche and Aston Martins – mainly the new ones like the Porsche 911, which is a $200 000 car.
Well, I applied for the job online at Myspace which at the time had a link to the Trivett Group’s Apprentice Recruitment Program, thinking that never in a million years would they pick me. I wanted to work at Trivett because it’s a big company and has a lot of job opportunities that I could consider in the future.
There were over 200 applicants and it was a three-stage process – first a written test, then a half day workshop and finally an interview. Basically, the workshop I wanted to get into (Aston Martin and Porsche) only takes one apprentice every two years so I really had to stand out.
FYI The Trivett Apprentice Recruitment Program runs each year around August and employs around 20 apprentices.
My number one tip would be to present yourself in the best possible light – nicely dressed, clean, shaven and so on. Before the interview think of the types of questions you may be asked and prepare your answers. Questions like 'what are your strengths and weaknesses?' always come up in job interviews and it pays to have a prepared answer to as many questions as possible. Also, I always take a spare copy of my resume to the interview just to show that I’m coming prepared.
In tests I always go with the first answer that comes to mind and I never spend too long on one question. Above all, the trick is to remain calm and answer as many questions as possible.
Absolutely. It will allow me to work on all types of cars, including diesel engines.
It’s a four-year apprenticeship. It involves four days a week in the workshop learning and helping out, and one day at TAFE where I do theory so I can get an official qualification in Automotive Engineering.
Yes. I’d rather be doing this than being a full-time student at university and only being able to work limited hours each week. This allows me to get a qualification and work at the same time – it’s not bad. TAFE is pretty easy – if you pay attention and try you’ll do well.
I just kind of fell into it actually. Being a mechanic is not something I ever saw myself doing but I saw the job advertised, I love cars, I applied and I got the job. So it’s really a career I fell into.
Definitely the cars! And also the people – it’s a great place to work, a relaxing and laid-back team environment.
The long hours. I start work at 7.15 am which means I have to get up at 4.45 am. I finish work anytime between 4.15 pm and 5.30 pm.
I really enjoy being a mechanic but I don’t think I will necessarily stay in this career forever. I would definitely like to stay in the automotive industry and can see myself as a service adviser – I’d like to have a go at the customer service side of things. I’ve worked in a retail customer service role before and I think it would be great to combine my apprenticeship skills and my knowledge of cars with the customer service side of things in the automotive industry.
The Award wage is about $270 gross per week. However, I do earn more because the Trivett Group have a program called ‘Trivett Advantage’ which is an additional amount of up to $100 per week on top of the Award wage. I also receive payment for overtime which helps.
A lot of people seem to think that all apprentices are 15 or 16 year old school leavers. I’m 20 and have been in the workforce for a few years now, so I have to battle that misconception.
You definitely hear stories of initiations and pranks being played on first-year apprentices. In my workshop it’s fairly tame – there will be the odd thing like they’ll take the fuse out of a car window so you can’t wind it down but other than that it’s been fairly good.
I think they should do their research before even considering it as a career. There are a lot of naive apprentices out there that don’t know what they’re getting into and they drop out in the first year which is a waste of time and money. It’s not particularly hard work but you need to have your wits about you and be a good worker. If you’re keen to learn then it’s a great industry.
An Aston Martin DBS.