Family & Lifestyle

What I wish I’d known as an apprentice

With age and experience comes wisdom and the magic of insight. As part of Tradies National Health Month, we speak to a construction supervisor, hairdresser and sous chef and ask them: ‘What do you wish you’d known as an apprentice?’

You might think only those in construction need to undertake an apprenticeship. In actual fact there are so many more options available. An apprenticeship is a great way to not only get your foot in the door, but explore a potential career and gain on the job experience while you’re at it.

To get some insight into life in these early stages of a trade career, we chatted to three qualified professionals who undertook this type of on the job training; Pete Stach from one of the country’s largest construction companies Probuild, Teniele Robinson of Melbourne salon Min Studio, and Chris Dyer of Melbourne restaurant L’otel Gitan.

Pete Stach, Supervisor


I wish I’d known more about the different industries and career streams – the difference between commercial and domestic construction. I also wish I knew more about what’s involved in getting your domestic building licence. I think these days it’s far clearer what the different pathways are and this information is more widely shared through TAFEs, whereas when I was younger it wasn’t as openly discussed.

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When I was learning my trade there was more emphasis on just getting qualified as a stubby rather than what it took to run your own show. If I knew more about that, I think I would’ve been more driven and focused in owning my own business from the get go. Now I’m almost nine years into commercial construction, but I’m looking at dropping back into domestic and setting up my own shop – which is a goal I’ve always had, but maybe I would’ve got there faster if I’d known the full pathway from the start.

Teniele Robinson, Senior stylist and co-owner

Min Studio

My mum owned a salon so I was lucky to do my apprenticeship under her. She instilled a really rigourous and dedicated work ethic in me from very early on. She had me clocking longer hours and working harder than I think I would’ve been subjected to under anyone else, and I’m grateful today for that.

What I wish I’d understood better back then was the way that hard work eventually pays off. You might not get immediate gratification but the more you put in to your work, the more you’ll get out of it long term. Hours are long and the work can be challenging as an apprentice, but just know that it will all eventually pay off. Even if I didn’t see the rewards immediately, I’m definitely seeing them now that I’m running my own business. In a nutshell, give it your all and you’ll reap the rewards.

Another important thing I think is to remember it’s not about the mistakes you make but it’s about how you fix them. The way you deal with your clients, the way you deal with people to sort out those mistakes rather than pretending they didn’t happen.

Chris Dyer, Sous Chef

L’otel Gitan

One thing I do wish I had been more aware of was how starting in a new kitchen could help me re-ignite my passion for my trade. At multiple points during the course of my 15-year career, it’s been just what I needed when I’ve started to feel like perhaps I was done with cookery. Getting to know a new kitchen, a new team and a new menu can be so refreshing.

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Products issued by TAL Life Limited ABN 70 050 109 450 AFSL 237848. Involuntary Unemployment Cover issued by St Andrew’s Insurance (Australia) Pty Ltd ABN 89 075 044 656 AFSL 239649.

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