We talk to Camilla Bird, a 27-year old fourth year apprentice mechanic and MTAA Super member. Camilla has learned her trade at a dealership in Artarmon, on Sydney’s lower north shore.
When did you first get interested in cars?
“I grew up on a farm and learned to drive when I was about 10 years old. I would tear around the paddocks with my brother, putting cars to the test and learning the hard way that it’s much easier to wreck a car then it is to fix it.”
How did you become an apprentice mechanic?
“In the past, I had jobs in hospitality and administration. I sent out lots of applications and finally got my break when the Motor Trade Association (MTA) invited me for an interview. After that, I had a preliminary test, and then work experience and finally a job offer.
“I’m really grateful to the MTA for giving me my start. Before then, I’d walk into garages and be laughed at for being a woman who wanted to be an apprentice mechanic.”
What have you learned most being an apprentice?
“My apprenticeship has a strong focus on accuracy on the job. There are lots of regulatory and safety requirements to learn and to make sure are met.
“It’s very strict, and everything has to be done by the book. In other places there can be an attitude of “she’ll be right” but it’s often not right.”
What aspects of your apprenticeship do you enjoy the most?
“Dealing with customers and problem solving are my favourite parts of parts of being a mechanic.
“I get a lot of satisfaction out of being able to take a car, go through it, find the problem and hand the keys back to the owner with it fixed.”
What are your plans for the future?
“I love living in the country and want to get back there one day. I’d like to start my own farm and produce affordable organic fruit and vegetables.
“I want to be able to take everything I learn in my career as a mechanic and use that on a farm – fixing my own machinery and doing the preventative work to stop break downs in the first place.
“A farm is down the track for me, and I want to keep enjoying my job as a mechanic for a long time to come.”
Do you ever think about your super and saving for retirement?
“I think about my super quite often and I want to start putting extra contributions into my super account soon.
“I’ve rolled all my other accounts into my MTAA Super account. I did my research and decided it was the best and it was really easy to combine them. I’m really glad I’m with MTAA Super.”