Alicia Griffith is 26 years old and is currently working through the 2nd year of her Apprenticeship, on the Elevator and Maintenance Pathway. After high school, she decided to carry out an Apprenticeship in Mechanical Engineering, however, she then had a child so worked in Retail for a while, but hated every second. Realising her heart lay with Engineering, she decided to get back into the industry, and that’s when she stumbled across a Lift and Escalator Apprenticeship on Indeed.
Alicia is the perfect example of someone who has decided to have a career change, to follow their passion later in life. We recently had the chance to chat with Alicia about her experience as an Apprentice so far and here’s what she had to say…
“People don’t realise the opportunity that comes from learning from people’s experiences. As an Apprentice, it’s your time to ask all the stupid questions because none of them are stupid. You don’t know any better. So it’s the training, the answers to the questions and the time that people dedicate to making sure you have that knowledge. I think it’s something pretty special that people underestimate sometimes.”
The main perks of an Apprenticeship according to Alicia
What were you doing before your Apprenticeship?
Out of high school, I did a Mechanical Engineering Apprenticeship. I then had a child and went into retail, and I hated every second of it. My brain works for Engineering. I’ve always enjoyed messing with stuff. So retail just drove me insane. I was applying for a long time to get back into the industry, or just Engineering in general. I wasn’t too fussed about where.
How did you find out about the Apprenticeship?
I found it on Indeed. I found it very interesting reading about it. You could go into different sections as well. So there is Maintenance, Repairs and Installation. Then I think there was a Design kind of side of it as well, where they design how lifts get put in. So there are lots of different elements to read about.
What subjects were you interested in at school?
Math and science. I have seven brothers, so I have grown up messing with all the tools. I’ve always had to know how things work. Like take it to pieces, put it back together again. I can remember when I was younger asking my Mum “did trams go the way they go because of the flow of electricity?” And my Mum’s like, “I don’t know, why would I know that?” But I’ve always been intrigued by stuff like that.
What is a good trait to have as an Apprentice?
When you are interested. The more you are interested, the more they want to show you. When I went on Escalators, there was a really, really good teacher. He sat down with a napkin and drew the inside of an Escalator and he explained all the different parts. They’re just as passionate about their jobs. So it is a really nice environment to be in because everybody wants to learn.
How is the industry changing?
The industry’s changing so fast. A lift from 20 years ago is such a physical job. You have to go and physically change stuff. Some of the lifts now you can literally fix from your phone. You can see them working. If you get a lift stopped fault come through, you check your phone, you open it and you can see if the lift’s running up and down, you can see the doors, you can send it to places on your phone, just to check it. So the way things are changing, the older Engineers know that we are the future. Our brains work a lot better that way as we’ve been brought up with technology. So they’re encouraging that we are the future.
What would you say your main strength is and what is an example where you’ve displayed it at work?
My memory is my best strength. Sometimes it could be a conversation with the Managers being like, “right, okay, this lift’s off. Why is it off?” And I can tell the Engineer what day we went, what we went for, what the problem was, what the fault code was and what we did on that day. And I could do that for several different things. Other Engineers comment it’s crazy that I remember that stuff, but I enjoy my job. So it sticks in my brain. So I’d say my memory’s probably my greatest strength and I use it quite often to remember what we’ve done. It speeds things up.
What is something you have been most proud of during your Apprenticeship?
We had a really bad problem at a bank. The lift broke because of the storms. It was really bad. The lift was off for a long time and it took a lot of different technicians. It wasn’t me personally fixing it. It was just nice to be a part of that team. And when it got working again, it was a very proud moment of we did that, you know, we stuck at it. It was really nice to have worked out a really difficult problem and been part of the problem solving, the fixing of it and learning. So learning something about a different make of lift was quite interesting. That’s probably one of my proudest moments recently.
Would you say being a team player is important?
Yeah. The team is incredibly important. Most of the time, the site I work on, it’s a two-person site, but most of the time you are a single person working. So when you need a hand, you’re gonna want your team members to want to help you. You want them to trust you. You don’t want your Manager forcing somebody to be like, “you’ve gotta go help, Alicia, today” and then being like, “oh, I really don’t want to help her. She doesn’t talk to anyone. She doesn’t help anyone.” You don’t want that. You don’t want to be that person that nobody wants to help. You want to be able to fix it as a team, without having to take it higher. It’s quite important. You feel very much like a family. I feel like I’ve got a lot of older siblings.
Have you made some really good friends during your Apprenticeship?
Yes definitely. When we went out for Christmas, everybody was really nice and personally having a child young, I’d never been out so it was quite an anxious time for me. I had no idea what to expect and obviously with COVID as well, it was even more anxious. They just look after you and they make sure they walked me to the train station to meet my partner, to make sure that I got on a train and everything. They looked after me and it was nice to feel that kind of support when they didn’t have to because it was outside of work time.
What skills do you think are most important for an Apprentice?
Communication because it’s very important to be able to work with other people, to be able to be confident enough to communicate your ideas, and to be able to stand up and say, “I don’t understand”. Or just have the confidence to be present and communicate with everyone, and be part of the team.
What is your final advice to anyone interested in applying?
I think if you like to know how things work and your brain is your best tool, Engineering is a career for you, no matter your gender.
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