Queensland apprentice changes gear to a career in auto
1 September 2015 - Career in the automotive industry
Steven Tong is a 35-year old apprentice mechanic with KMART Tyre and Auto in Birkdale, Queensland. He is completing an apprenticeship after a shift in circumstances enabled him to pursue a long-held dream.
“Over 5 years ago my wife and I were fortunate to move up in the corporate world and as a result we are now financially better off. We worked very hard to get where we wanted to be and we’re now able to follow our passions. I have always had an inkling of doing mechanics; doing something where I could get my hands dirty and fix something that is broken.
“This career change popped up. I was working for a big company in the retail industry and browsing through job websites when I found the apprenticeship opportunity with KMART Tyre and Auto. I was fortunate enough to get a hold of the regional manager and basically everything went from there. I was signed up as an apprentice shortly after in September 2013.
“It has worked out really well. I have had the opportunity to learn and I was very fortunate to get into a good company that is all about safety and looking after its employees. I have just gone into the second year of my apprenticeship and just 13-14 months into it, it’s been a fun rollercoaster ride that I just don’t want to get off.”
Steven says a highlight has been his nomination for the MTA Queensland 2014 Apprentice of the Year Award.
“To be one of five finalists in Queensland, to have that recognition in such a short period of time, to have that opportunity, it’s just mind-blowing.”
Leeanne Turner, MTAA Super’s CEO says: “I had a fantastic conversation with Steven on the awards night and I was really impressed by his passion and personality. Steven’s career move shows that whatever your age, the automotive industry offers opportunity to anyone who’s up for the challenge. The life experience and maturity Steven brings with him to his new job is being recognised and rewarded – his example illustrates that it’s never too late to follow your dream.”
The Queenslander has been with MTAA Super for about 18 years. “I was 17 and I got hooked up with MTAA Super. I have always found them good and very helpful with the things that I need.”
Steven says being an MTAA Super member has also opened up opportunities that he wouldn’t otherwise have had. It was through MTAA Super that Steve got to go behind the scenes at the V8 Gold Coast race in October, an experience he won’t ever forget.“To have that opportunity, it is just once in a lifetime. For someone who just focuses on work and family, to get out and do something different and have that time away is hard to describe. The two days spent there were exhilarating. We saw what goes on, the V8 supercars in the tracks and we had opportunities to meet the drivers and get photos. It was absolutely brilliant.”
If you are aspiring to enter the motor industry, Steven recommends following your dream, irrespective of age. “Employers are after someone to get the job done and who is reliable, whether they are kids, adults or whatever.
If you have got a goal or you are aspiring to do something, I think definitely just go for it and work hard to get it. It doesn’t matter what age you are.”
MTAA Super’s support of the Automotive Apprentice of the Year Awards and the unique Pathways program help to celebrate and promote the diverse career opportunities in the auto industry.
MTAA Super is the national industry-based superannuation fund for the motor trades and allied industries and is open to all Australians. MTAA Super has approximately 250,000 members and $8.5 billion in funds under management.
The Fund was recently awarded the 2015 Conexus Financial Superannuation Award– Medium Fund of the year.