From trucks to speedway racing, third-year apprentice at Drake Group, Erin Vanderreyden, has had a soft spot for transport for as long as she can remember.
Now 19 years old, Vanderreyden began her apprenticeship while she was in Year 12 and was offered the gig with Drake after impressing the team during her work experience.
“Ever since I was born, my family has been in transport. We’ve had three transport companies,” she said.
Vanderreyden has enjoyed being hands on and was already in the shed welding trailers with her grandfather as soon as she was old enough to handle the tools.
“I loved being in the shed with Pop or my uncle. I can remember the first thing I ever welded was the underside of a tipper body when I was about 11 or 12. We have a big workshop at Nan and Pop’s house, where they used to cut chassis in half and extend the trailers,” she said.
Back when she was in Grade 1, Vanderreyden even had her father come to school with his Louisville truck for show and tell. “It was the only truck we had with a bunk and I thought it was the coolest thing ever, so Dad brought it in and all the kids got to go in too,” she recalled.
Now Vanderreyden has turned her passion into a career.
“As a third year apprentice, I’m starting to do more of the bigger jobs and working on trailers by myself which is challenging but fun. I can get my head around it very quickly,” she said.
“It’s been very rewarding but challenging at the same time. Obviously I don’t have full knowledge of everything I’m doing, so sometimes have to ask, but everyone is really good to me.”
And Vanderreyden’s hard work is certainly paying off. Last year she was nominated in the Apprenticeship Qld – Apprentice of the Year awards, becoming one of six finalists.
Though Vanderreyden is working in what is still a male dominated industry, she said she definitely doesn’t want any special treatment. “I knew I had to have the right attitude to be able to work in a place like this, where I’m the only girl.
The same goes with my racing, which is a male dominated sport. I don’t expect to make it just because I’m a girl, I want to make it because I can do it just as well as anybody else. When I started at Drake, I was the only girl, now there are another three first year apprentices who are female too.”
For anyone considering a career in transport, her advice is, “Just go for it. There’s always going to be a job in transport – you can buy a truck, build a truck or sell a truck. Transport is an industry we can’t live without.”