It keeps me interested, because it changes all the time.Tusi Tupe, Dispatch Control
Hailing from small town Kaikohe Sinead Solomon (Ngāpuhi) jumped into her telecommunications career without any expectations at just 16 years old.
Her goal was to soak up as much knowledge as fast as possible by asking lots of questions and learning from other apprentices and her mentors.
“When I applied for my apprenticeship I was still completing my NCEA level two accreditation and was only really thinking about finishing my level three to get into a uni. When I saw the Vodafone advert in our school newsletter, the opportunity to make a big move, make a big change and have a job with perks like a new phone and good salary won me over,” says Sinead.
“A lot my friends think they can’t do what I’ve done and I disagree with them. I think if you change your thinking, you can do anything you put your mind to.”
Now 19 and fully qualified, Sinead is tossing up her career options with the company. She works with Vodafone network structure, monitoring cell site performance in cities across New Zealand and ensuring the company’s assets are maintained properly.
“I loved every part of the apprenticeship so it’s hard to know which specific area I want to go into now. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into at the start but it was nothing like I imagined.
“The transition was hard finding my way around the city but the actual apprenticeship was really stimulating and everyone is supportive and helpful with your work and giving career advice.
“My team members were awesome. I even share a flat with one of my teammates from the first year of apprenticeship and we’re good friends,” she says.
Making such a big change can be daunting but Sinead had the support and encouragement of her dad back home who is proud she has come so far and is doing something great with her life, continuing to learn and grow.
“My two brothers didn’t go to uni or get an apprenticeship so despite my dad originally wanting me to get a uni degree, he’s really proud of what I’ve accomplished and has encouraged me every step of the way in my career,” she says.
The things you learn by taking on a telecommunications apprenticeship can also have a big effect in everyday conversation.
“It’s cool how I can explain to people around me why some cell service may be poorer in some areas than others.
“It’s funny because one of the lower coverage areas in New Zealand was actually at my home town. It was really interesting to be able to see exactly why and now be here when they’re working on an upgrade to fix the problem,” she says.
Sinead advises anyone thinking about pursuing a similar apprenticeship to absorb as much as possible and take notes.
“There is just so much to learn. But the most important thing is to believe in yourself.”