My Transition from Automotive to Mining

This year I made the transition from the automotive industry to mining. Translation: I have gone from working on 4.5-tonne trucks to maintaining earthmoving equipment the size of houses!

In case you need a visual representation of the scale of the earthmoving equipment:

I left behind my work friends, product knowledge, network, and reputation to start in a new industry. Not only that, I am now working in a different state. The career change came as a shock to many, similarly to how becoming a diesel mechanic shocked many of my high-school teachers. Yet, as I progressed through the mine’s recruitment process, I knew I was acting from a place of self-knowledge, even before I have consciously decided.

While I was not planning on changing industries, when the opportunity arose to apply for a job in a Queensland mine, I put my name down so I could find out more information. I had been qualified for a few months and was content in my role. Yet, in hindsight, being content was not a positive indicator for me and my personality type.

My life (along with every other Victorian at the time) was quite turbulent due to the strict COVID-19 restrictions placed on the state. This made me extra cautious, as I did not want to make any decisions too guided by emotions that would eventually dissipate. I managed to pull myself together enough to impress during my official video interview but had no expectations to get the job.

Mining has a reputation to employ mechanics who already had mining experience, and I was still fresh out of my time as an apprentice. So, when I received the call in mid-December (with state borders still locked up against Victoria and no idea whether the end was in sight) I said ‘yes’ while trembling on the phone with anxiety, excited for my new role, yet terrified of COVID-19’s agenda. (Fortunately, conditions improved in Victoria, and Queensland opened their borders again before my first week, so I was able to fly in to my new job for my first seven-day swing.)

It was a big decision to leave the automotive industry. The sector helped mould me into a truer version of myself. Yet, through-out my apprenticeship there had only ever been two options for me after qualifying:

  1. Stay and climb the corporate ladder.
  2. Leave and diversify my knowledge and skills as a mechanic.

While the departure from the heavy vehicle industry was outside what others expected of me, it was a move that was true to me. I have never been a complacent person. Contentment is not an emotion I value in my professional life. Being mentally stimulated at work comes from constant learning and new experiences and challenges. While there is always more to be learned, even in a workshop you have known for four years, the frequency of new lessons and experiences does reduce as your work becomes more familiar.

Despite being faced with my first official resignation, the transition from automotive to mining has proven to me the value of listening to my gut and ignoring the mental doubts and external concerns. I was open to being wrong and having to accept mining and fly-in-fly-out was not a lifestyle for me, yet, inside, I knew that I was saying goodbye permanently.

More than just a change in industry, mining has provided a lifestyle change. Instead of working two thirty-eight-hour weeks in a fortnight, I am working one seven-day-week of twelve-and-a-half-hour days. While the contrast between work-eat-sleep and rest is extreme, it provides me the freedom to invest more time into my passions. I have more energy to commit to business and writing and wellbeing (and cooking is less of a chore now that I have more time at home!).

Through-out my apprenticeship I was never interested in mining, similarly to how as a kid I had no interest in being a diesel mechanic until I accidentally signed up to work experience. In both decisions, I had surprised the people around me and gone against their expectations by knowing and trusting myself. Choosing to enter a trade instead of attending university has always been one of the best decisions of my life. If my patterns are anything to go by, mining could be my next ‘best decision’. Only time will tell!

Ashley

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