I was born/grew up in: I was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada and moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia when I was in the fourth grade where I finished High School.
I now live in: I now live with my family in Mount Uniacke, Nova Scotia, Canada where we bought our first home.
I completed my training/education at: I took my one-year Automotive Service Technician program at the Nova Scotia Community College, Akereley Campus where I continue to do my level training for my Apprenticeship.
What I do at work
My run of the day can be very different day to day depending on what a vehicle needs when it comes into the shop.
One of the main things I do is regular scheduled maintenance on a vehicle, such as oil changes, tire changes, wiper blade replacement, checking and changing numerous filters, making sure all fluids are changed when necessary and of course, making sure we can stop when going down the street.
Other days is a lot of beating and smashing, like changing steering and suspension components when necessary. I have a toolbox full of tools that help me gets these jobs done.
I also have to be comfortable with the Oxygen and Acetylene torches for heating and cutting components when necessary and using a welder in some circumstances like welding on an exhaust system.
Although some days I go home very dirty, some days will be more steered towards electrical and diagnostics. This is becoming more and more common today with all of the new technology. I consider it the science/tech side of my trade. Computers and electrical in a vehicle are only becoming more complex. Did you know there are cars that we can plug in to charge instead of filling up at the gas station? We have cameras mounted all over vehicles today that allow us to have a full 360 degree birds eye view when we are parking. Vehicles have computers and sensors watching everything that is going on while you are driving down the road to make sure everything is working the way it should. Although all these fancy new features are nice, someone needs to be able to repair them. We have Scan tools that come in laptop, tablet and you can even get one on your cell phone, form that we plug into a car to see what is wrong when a light comes up in your dash. Some problems require lots of problem solving, like checking for powers and grounds; sometimes it takes some research online or with vehicles service information to figure out how it needs to be fixed.
I was not required to do all of this on my own though. Because I am an apprentice, it means that I am required to work with a Red Seal Automotive Service Technician. I have had 3 mentors since I have started in the trade that were all there to help me out when I needed it or to answer any question I might have when I am unsure of something. In our main shop we not only have Automotive Technicians but Truck and Transport Technicians and Heavy Equipment Technicians. While my licensed technician and I work on the smaller scale of things, they work on the Highways Snow Plows, Tractor Trailers, Mowing equipment and so much more. On site, we also have an Automotive Collision shop, a Welding shop, a Machining shop and a Ferry shop. We all work together as a team to make sure our Highways and Ferry Services are up and running in Nova Scotia.
My career path is
When I was in high school I only ever thought I would have a career in the medical field. I think it is because I like working with people but I realized that was not the best option for me. For me, it all started with my first car that left me hanging on more than one occasion. I found myself online trying to figure out problems on my own and I became really interested on how everything worked, that is why I decided to take the AST (Automotive Service Technician) program at NSCC and signed up for an apprenticeship. Many people thought that because I was a girl, I should not be a technician but I have learned that just because someone has an opinion, does not mean they are right. I have proved to myself, and my employer that I can be a technician and that is what matters at the end of the day.
This career has had its challenges some days and I defiantly make mistakes, but in most cases, I can learn from those mistakes and I can turn it into a learning experience. No one is perfect, especially when they first start to learn something new.
I am motivated by
I get excited at work when I get the opportunity to try something new. It is fun and rewarding when you have accomplished something that you never thought you would have been able to handle at one point in time. My most exciting day during my apprenticeship was the first time I did a full sub frame replacement on a vehicle on my own. It was the first ‘larger’ scale job I did on my own and I felt a lot of pride when the vehicle left and I was confident it was safe. I never would have been able to do that job 2 years earlier in my career.
It is personally rewarding to look back 4 years ago when I first started in the trade, and how many skills I have learned since then. When I was young I never considered a career in Automotive, but that was simply because no one ever talked to me about a career in the trades. Something I learned in high school was how much I liked working with my hands, but that does not mean I was very good at it. I have made so many improvements and have learned a lot thanks to my mentors. Working with my hands and being able to problem solve is what makes this career right for me.
How I affect peoples’ lives
It is fulfilling having someone happy to be back on the road. Vehicles give people freedom and in my case get jobs done. It is important that cars, trucks and SUV’s on the roads are safe and repaired properly.
Outside of work I
I am a busy Mom but outside of work, I love boating, camping fishing with my family and always love cooking us something new. For myself, I go to a kickboxing gym and love to see a movie with a friend. I have been volunteering with youth in career exploration programs for the past year and have been trying to make a difference for women in the trades.
My advice to others
Be patient with yourself, especially if you have no prior experience. You will learn something new almost every day if you let yourself. If you are not sure if you are interested, try signing up for a 02 or career exploration program in your area. Maybe even try to get a part time job doing tires and oil to start. Any experience will help you in the end. Oh, and don’t forget to start saving your money for some tools!