Apprentice 'Proud to Fix That'

25-year-old Nikita Grindley has fond memories of visiting custom car shows with her mum when she was a young girl, and has loved cars ever since. It’s a love that has stayed with her through the years and she’s now turning that passion into a rewarding career as an apprentice heavy diesel technician at Truck Stops, Wellington.

Her road to the industry wasn’t always clear-cut though. “After finishing school I tried my hand at several different jobs and never found something I particularly enjoyed,” says Nikita. “But, after the birth of my son, everything changed. Right then, I found the motivation I needed to set myself up with a career that would provide for the both of us. That steered me towards having a career that I love and am really passionate about.”

Working with trucks wasn’t something Nikita initially considered, given her affinity with cars. But, after completing the first year of an automotive pre-trade course at Weltec, she saw the apprenticeship programme with Truck Stops advertised and couldn’t pass up such a perfect opportunity. “I never saw myself working in heavy diesel and was adamant I only wanted to work with light vehicles,” laughs Nikita. “But, when I saw the apprenticeship programme with Truck Stops, it felt like fate. I’m so pleased I applied - I love my job!”

With exceedingly high demand for the popular apprenticeship programme, Truck Stops Wellington Branch Manager, Chris Groves, says the programme is a very successful way to find apprentices who have the right motivation and attitude to learn and who become excellent qualified technicians. Nikita, fit the criteria perfectly.

“We had over 500 applicants for just 19 available positions around the country and Nikita really stood out,” says Chris. “Since joining the company in March, she has progressed extremely well with her training. She is hard working and has an excellent attitude towards both her work and her training, and has quickly become a valuable member of our team”.

As part of the apprenticeship programme, Nikita is completing a National Certificate in Motor Industry (Automotive Heavy Engineering) with strand in Road Transport (Level 3 and 4) through MITO. “Being able to earn while I learn is the best,” says Nikita. “I get paid to gain valuable experience at the same time - and with a young boy at home that’s a massive help! Then, once I’m qualified, it will open up so many opportunities for me – both within New Zealand and overseas.”

Being a female in the industry doesn’t even rate a mention with Nikita either. “I just want to come to work and be judged on the quality of the work I do,” she says. “At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.”

“Truck Stops are very supportive of females entering the industry,” says Chris. “There are fantastic opportunities for them here. We already have a qualified female technician in this workshop and it’s great that Nikita is able to learn from her too.”

Knowing she could never work behind a desk all day, Nikita enjoys the variety of her job and being able to work with her hands. But it’s constantly learning new things that really drives her.

“I tend to ask a million questions because I want to do things right the first time,” she says. “We can be working on numerous makes and models of trucks on any given day, and with all the different tasks that need to be performed, you definitely learn quickly. It’s an awesome feeling to be able to repair vehicles that can be worth half a million dollars. I feel so proud that at the end of the day I can say - I fixed that!”

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