Laurinda Schloss is an aircraft sheetmetal apprentice, who loves the variety in her work – despite being the only girl on her shift at Hangar 3.
Laurinda is a second year apprentice in sheetmetal work for aircraft, with just a few more years of practical on-the-job training left.
“I’m basically fixing the structure of the aircraft. Mechanics do inspections and work on the engines. My job involves things like taking off panels to fix corrosion. We also make panels for the aircraft says Laurinda.
A typical workday for Laurinda isn’t quite so typical. She gets given a job to work on each day. As she’s still an apprentice, she works closely with a mentor and is given a work card each day with the different jobs she has to complete. We’re always doing something different everyday,” she says.
“You’re always working with someone else, because you’re a second year apprentice. They’re like a mentor. You learn so much, either in the sheet metal shop which is where I’m mainly based, or in the hangar. Sometimes you can actually work on the aircraft.”
“I was put with one person initially, but since then I’ve been working with so many different people to get more experience. You learn from what they know and they teach you what they know, and show you little tricks to get the job done.”
This week Laurinda is on night shift: “I work 3pm till 11pm,” she says. “Then the morning shift is 7am till 3pm. There’s a lot of overtime offered when it’s busy, so you’re often working twelve hours shifts.”
“We get supplied with special protective clothing like safety boots, vests and glasses, which are worn in the shop at all times.”
Laurinda got into the industry doing work experience. “When I was at school I worked at a sheetmetal shop for a year doing work experience. I loved it. I tried office work and I wasn’t too keen on it.”
“I thought I’d try something totally different to what some of my friends were doing and what I was doing at the time – working at a school for work experience. I went down the road and asked the sheet metal shop if they needed any help. I was there for a year and I loved it,” she said. “Then I heard about Aviation Australia in the Paper, so I applied and I got in.”
Laurinda’s advice for anyone wanting to enter the aviation industry is that they should just apply. I was so scared of applying – but I did it and I was so surprised when I got it! Never let fear hold you back.”
She now hopes to stay with Qantas for a couple of years, but she’d also love to see the world with her trade. “I’d love to work on contracts and see the world while I work,” she says.
The best part of the job?
The variety of work we do – it’s very different. I also enjoy the environment; the people I work with are really fun. It’s also great not being stuck in an office.
The hardest part of the job?
As a first year apprentice without many hand skills, there is a lot to learn. I thought it would be challenging being the only girl there. But after a few weeks you just fit in.
What personal qualities are needed for the job?
You have to have good hand skills, but anyone could do it if they put their mind to it. You have to be switched on and have attention to detail – you have to be a bit of a perfectionist.