Alice is a talented Electrician, advocate for tradeswomen with a truly unique background. Situated in the Yarra Ranges in Victoria, Alice has had an extensive and diverse background in commercial projects and maintenance. She shared her story with us recently:
Alice, you have such an interesting background. Did you want to share it with the audience?
Absolutely. I am the only child of a Mum who is a Primary School Teacher, and a Dad who is a Lighthouse Keeper. We lived at the Prom (Wilsons Promontory) – it was pretty isolated, we’d get our food shipped in once a year or so. So I really didn’t get to see many people let alone women who worked in a trade. Mum and Dad were huge influencers – Dad instilled in me at an early age “every job is important”, no matter what you do. Mum was always giving me toys that people would consider for boys because that was what I was interested in.
How did you get exposure to trades as a career option, being so isolated?
Interestingly, the electrical trade was the number one trade I was exposed to. I remember really clearly an electrician visiting us and doing work – I watched what he did, and asked him a lot of questions. So with limited exposure, I knew this was something I was interested in.
You seemed to have been pushed into a very different area before you graduated?
Yes, I did end up finishing Year 12 – my career counsellor told me that I should study nursing. So that’s what I did, for a year at Lorne, and then I decided to take on an apprenticeship instead. There was such a strong push from my parents to go down the university path, but I really felt strongly about others who had done the same thing and ended up leaving their careers.
So an electrical apprentice was the right way to go.
I wanted to become something licensed, plus with my experience with the electrician at the Prom – seeing what he did – compelled me to go down this path. I completed my Cert III through Box Hill TAFE/VICTECH, and became the only person in my whole family to become a qualified electrician. I was one of two people who sat for my license – the other person was a guy – and happy to say I beat him in getting it! I started the apprenticeship at 20 years of age, and finished it in 2007. I’ve been an electrician for 17 and a half years now. My apprenticeship was fantastic – I was the first student in my trade school to sit and obtain an electrical license, and was also nominated for apprentice of the year.
That’s fantastic Alice! What kind of work have you been involved with since you qualified?
From 2007 to around 2011 I worked in construction – schools, hospitals, office buildings. From 2011 onwards, I switched to maintenance.
What do you like most about working in the electrical trade?
I really like the challenges, the variety of work – there is something different to do every day, and you get a real senses of achievement in what you do and the finished project. I get to drive past construction sites or finished projects and say “I helped do this on this project!”. The project that stood out for me was the Royal Children’s Hospital in Carlton, that was a really great project.
What advice would you like to pass on to women considering becoming an electrician?
Just keep in mind that you are working with blokes – to start off with they are hesitant around you, but after a bit they’re quite cool when they understand they can act normally around you. Also, don’t forget that anything is possible – if you want to do it, have a go! Also think about your future – plan and invest in your retirement, that’s something that I’ve thought about quite a lot.
I know you really like what you do now, but are there any other career aspirations you’re thinking about?
Yes – long term I’d really like to get involved in training and assessing. I’d also really like to get involved in electrical tradeswomen groups as a committee member, that would be fantastic. I would really love to help out anyone in the industry – if they needed support, I would be on to it!
We wish to thank Alice for her story, encouragement and insights, and hope that she continues in her successful electrical career.
If you would like to receive advice from a trade mentor, or would like to become a mentor or role model for future tradeswomen, why get in touch with us?
To receive regular tradeswomen stories, subscribe to Tradeswomen Australia today.