Support to move outside your comfort zone

While Sandra Van Der Gaag was working as an Australian Fisheries Officer in the NT (and completing her degree in engineering) she saw first-hand the work of the oil and gas industry and decided that would be her next career move. It was a big step to start all over again in a new career direction, in a new location, and Sandra had to muster her courage.

She chose a Certificate III in Process Plant Operations as a stepping stone into the type of work she wanted to do. Sandra undertook a two year traineeship with Apprenticeships Australia, hosted by Woodside as a process operator at its Karratha Gas Plant. Her first six months were classroom based, learning the hazards and operating processes of the gas plant, with her remaining 18 months based in the field, gaining practical experience.

Sandra says, “I stepped outside my comfort zone to make this move and the traineeship was great. I received extensive practical experience along with support when I needed it.”

She now has a permanent position at Woodside as a process plant operator and plays a daily, vital role in ensuring the safety and efficient operation of the plant. Sandra can see the value of the diverse backgrounds of people attracted to traineeships in her field.

“At work, we’re encouraged to contribute suggestions to the continuous improvement process and those different perspectives really help.”

Sandra says she enjoys talking to other people about her experience.

“I love opening peoples’ eyes to the number of pathways that are possible if you look for them. I’m now working in a very responsible, professional capacity in a job I love. The traineeship was a great, supported way to learn new skills and increase my confidence.”

In 2015 Sandra won the title of Australian Apprentice (Trainee) of the Year at the Australian Training Awards and was appointed an Australian Apprenticeships Ambassador for the Australian Government.

If you are interested in an Australian Apprenticeship and how to get started, download An Australian Apprenticeship - Endless Career Possibilities brochure or contact your local Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider.

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