“In high school, it was really drilled into us that university was the only pathway, and because of that I didn’t really know what I wanted to,” said Stephanie.
Having studied both arts and law subjects at university, Stephanie then tried her hand at working in an office-based environment before debating if she was better suited to a more hands-on career.
Having grown up with her father, a trade-qualified boilermaker, and two brothers who both completed apprenticeships, Stephanie soon realised her dream job was a little closer to home than she originally thought.
“I thought that a trade might be something that I should look at. It had all the things I wanted: paid study, being outside, and the ability to move around. I thought it would be a very different work environment,” said Stephanie.
“I needed a trade that had heaps of different aspects, and refrigeration and air conditioning has all of these things. So I took a shot and have loved it ever since,” she said.
Stephanie was fortunate enough to find a position at Broadcast Services Australia (BSA), a national technical services company. Based at the Brisbane branch, Stephanie was welcomed as the first female apprentice to be hired by the company in Queensland.
With female refrigeration and air conditioning tradespeople only representing 1.5 per cent of the industry’s national workforce, Stephanie hopes to encourage other women into the industry.
“Initially it was a shock to be completely surrounded by males at work, especially males a little bit older than me. That was an aspect that I needed to mentally adjust to,” said Stephanie.
“All the guys in my class at TAFE were really nice and welcoming, the same with the technicians I work with. I thought that some of the older guys in the industry might not like the idea of a girl coming in, but it was the complete opposite — they were super supportive and helped me with any questions I had or anything I needed to learn.”
“It's scary at the start and it was going to be a shock, but the rewards I get completely outweigh any doubts I initially had. I would definitely encourage other women to do it and not be scared,” she said.
BSA is extremely pleased with Stephanie since taking her on as an apprentice. BSA Regional Manager (South East Queensland HVAC) Tim Edwards, said Stephanie has continued to excel in all aspects of her apprenticeship.
“The team at BSA looks forward to seeing Stephanie continue to kick goals throughout her apprenticeship and grow into the exceptional tradesperson we all know she will be,” said Mr Edwards.
“We are committed to the continual hiring of women into the refrigeration and air-conditioning sector and look forward to when we are again commencing the onboarding of new apprentices,” he said.
Having come from a university background, Stephanie explains that studying at TAFE Queensland is no easier than university, but the big difference is the amount of support you receive as a student.
“At TAFE you get so much more support from your teachers, student services, and also from within the class. At university, you’re in a classroom with 300 people and you can’t put your hand up and say that you don’t understand,” said Stephanie.
“At TAFE you’re in a smaller classroom and you can always ask the teacher to explain, and everyone just moves through the training together,” she said.
Stephanie now plans to enrol in a Certificate IV in Engineering (MEM40105) and study part-time on top of her apprenticeship.
“The goal is that once I finish my apprenticeship I want to look at pathways either in the controls side of air conditioning or even engineering. I’m taking those mini-steps to just feel out what I’d like to do but I definitely want to stay in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning,” said Stephanie.