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Considering a career change - any advice?

Discussion in 'Employment' started by DarkHorse, Oct 27, 2009.

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  1. Hey all,

    I'm getting to the point now where I am getting pretty fed up with my current job and am in need of a change.

    I currently work as a mechanist in theatre - mainly big commercial musicals but also smaller theatrical productions. What that means for those unfamiliar with the industry is that I build, operate and maintain the set and automation componants of a production.

    Being backstage is by definition pretty thankless work, though that's not really what's bothering me. Being directly involved in big-budget theatre and it's attendant politics and egos is what I'm getting sick of. The job at my level (2IC of the department) also involves regular relocation to move with productions, which no longer includes the financial incentives it once did, making it a pretty unattractive prospect unless you're single and unestablished domestically (it costs upwards of $2000 just to move a house full of furniture from Sydney to Melbourne.) The fact that I am working when everyone else in the world is having weekends or going out is also getting tiresome.

    My line of work to date involves a lot of varied competency without any particular expertise or qualification. For example, I am reasonably capable at basic carpentry and metalwork, but not to the level of being able to walk into a cabinet or joinery job, and I don't have a welding ticket. I have been operating and maintaining large automated systems involving electric motors, chain and/or belt drives and electronic control systems, but regard myself as an expert in none of it. I have been responsible for rigging hundreds of kilos of truss and scenic pieces above performers' heads but do not have a riggers ticket. You get the idea. The extent of my paper qualifications are my VCE and an Arts degree (Hist/Pol) and a forklift ticket - but even then I am badly out of practise driving forks.

    I have therefore been considering my options for alternative employment. There are jobs within the industry which may suit my needs, and which I will be looking at, but I am also looking beyond theatre. What I want is a full-time (or equivalent hours/income casual/contract) Monday-Friday type relatively stable job based in metro Sydney. I am happy to travel on a short-term basis, just not interested in relocating. I am more than happy working with my hands, although a series of overloading injuries recently have turned me off particularly heavy jobs for now.

    Anyway, long story short, and the reason for posting this here, is that I am hunting info and advice on getting into the bike industry. I am not really interested in sales (I don't think I have the BS tolerance for that) I am more inclined to something working with/on bikes. I have been doing minor servicing and mod jobs on my own bike, and I while I love working on the bike it has been with more enthusiasm and experimentation than real knowledge or ability. The obvious route would be to go into an apprenticeship through TAFE - is this the only real path in? The financial consequences of this are a bit problematic - I understand that shifting into an entirely new industry involves starting at the bottom of the food chain again, but I am not sure my partner and I could survive on an apprentice wage (that said I could concievably supplement that with working in theatre at night/occasionally, but that would require a really flexible/understanding employer)

    So, if anyone out there has any suggestions, advice or ideas on my situation (or a mechanic out there wants another set of hands???) I would really appreciate any input.

  2. Do mature age apprentices earn much more than their younger counterparts? Have you thought about or are interested in an electrical apprenticeship for country energy or in the mining sector? They pay quite well.

    Found on CareerOne:

    Fast Facts on Mature Age Apprenticeships

    According to the websites Australian Apprenticeships in addition to their normal wages, most apprentices are also entitled to one or more government allowances such as:

    Mature aged worker- special commencement, special completion (45 years and over), $750 special incentive on the successful completion of Certificate 2.
    Support for mid-career apprentices (30 years and over) if they do a Certificate 111 or 1V in and are in high demand ($150 in the first year, $7, 800 per annum) and $100 per week in the second ($5, 200).
    Tools for your trade – to purchase toolkits up to $800 – 60 trades qualify first year apprenticeships. To be eligible, students must be training in one of 60 trades. Go to their website for more details.

    Commonwealth trade learning scholarship – two tax exempt $500 payments for apprentices undertaking trades in the skills needs area with a small/medium enterprise or a Group Training Organisation.
    Finding a Mature Age Apprenticeship

    You need to find an employer before you are eligible to enrol in a TAFE course. Your options are:

    Cold canvassing small businesses in your area. Once you have an employer, the two of you will need to approach an Apprenticeship Centre to formalise the agreement, find a registered training provider and for the employer to secure any government incentives for taking you on.
    Registering with Group Training Australia who will act as your host employer and hook you up with a training employer as well as a registered training provider.
    Defence Forces.

    Hope that helps a bit!

  3. Thanks a lot Mitch, that's great. I'll definitely look into it. I was thinking about an electrician apprenticeship as a possibility. Didn't think there was much in the mining sector in metro Sydney, and I'm not up for extended periods in outback WA just at the moment.

    Didn't know about the mature-age deals, although I'm only 26 so immediately inelligible for some of the stuff you mentioned.

    Really appreciate it though, thanks mate.
  4. Ill chip in mate, as i am currently doing an electrical pre-apprenticeship :) (ps, looking for an actual apprenticeship :) )

    It's been a good course, I am about half way through, and it's going well. definately teaches you a lot of stuff relating to the industry, and 6 or 7 of the 13 modules i will complete will carry over into my apprenticeship, taking up to 6 months of my trade SCHOOLING (not actually apprenticeship)

    As for mature agers, we have a few ranging from 21-32 or so i believe. It is generally accepted that it is a bit harder for someone over 21 to get an apprenticeship, it is by no means impossible :p

    It is a good industry, and there are a lot of paths you can take (already i have applied for a communication technician role, and have an upcoming interview with an electrical/air conditioning place)

    I hope I've helped a little, and if you need any more info, ill try my best to help you :)

  5. Thanks enigma, will def look into it.

    Nothing from within the two-wheeled industry...?
  6. Have now, thanks roh.

    Interesting read, and it is something I had considered (the general occupation stuff) but I have no intention (pretension?) of opening my own business straight away!

    Is his online course any good? Other than being American...?
  7. Well, it's free! I find it useful and refer to it from time to time, and it's been posted here before. I find the constant bible references tiring but otherwise it seems pretty good.

    Not that I have any experience in the matter, but if you are 2IC and a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, might you find being a mechanic a little boring? After a while you might get into some decent problem solving, but I imagine the majority of the work (especially when you start) would be changing oil and indicator globes, and other such mundane tasks.

    I actually enjoy the ritual of routine maintenance on my own bike, sort of builds a connection that is nice to have when riding it, but I think I'd tire quickly of working on other's bikes.

    Perhaps E2W or another mechanic will offer their advice?
  8. Ha, yeah noticed the smattering of god-bothering even in the article you linked. Will have a look through though, seems like a well put together and relatively novice-friendly site.

    In terms of boredom - can you imagine the tedium of doing exactly the same thing (like to the second exact) with exactly the same people six nights and two afternoons every week? We come in before a show, do the same checks and resets to the same things, then do a 3 hour show where everything has to happen on the same beat of the same music every time. And the seasons last 6-12 months, before we move it to another city and start all over again. The only variation on a weekly basis is the scheduled maintenance, and even then that's regimented and repetitive unless something goes unexpectedly wrong during a show. I cover as many as 5 different show plots just to stop my brain seizing up from inactivity.

    I understand that most jobs involve some level of mundane tasks, I guess I just feel the need for some different mundane!

    Would still love to hear from Pete et al...
  9. With your hands on skills, etc. You should hit up your local Kennards Hire (or equiv'). I worked for them whilst i was at uni, and the work requires a knowledge of tools, equipment, etc. Having skills like the ability to weld, fabricate, repair, etc is VERY advantageous since most of the maintenance of the machinery/tools/etc is done in house.

    Not in the bike industry, but someone with your skills, it would be a shoe-in.
  10. Love your post mate - feel like I'm looking at a mirror!!

    I have been there Rob having started with Brisbane World Expo 88 - yes showing my age now hey! And freelance and [somehow] crewing in Adelaide's non-existent film industry for many years here in Adelaide/and earlier in Melbourne in 90s which was fun...but anyway what helped my wife and I when our first son was born was me joining Staging Connections - you would be a huge asset there.

    Stagings is number one events/ corporate events company and its same work as we did in the theatre except without the angst and attitude - you can do full-time or part time/ work freelance with other mobs as I did and do concerts and the like - but it finally lets you stop chasing work interstate.

    I really enjoyed my four years with Stagings as we do enjoy the team thing and doing a good show etc...

    The best thing about Stagings is that it polishes you up with regards your specialist AV electronics skills -data, lighting and sound - and this is where I went next working doing installs which was the better money. But i would seriously have a chat to Melbourne or Sydney [wherever you are] Stagings Connections about any openings - they do a special intake of Operators each year for the full timers I recall - The Chosen Ones we would joke - but all pay was fair with penalties etc etc

    Ive been last 5 years working editing a legal magazine and now after doing a year for an online venture suddenly find myself looking also for a new job.

    Working in theatre and AV totally confuses the recruitment bimbos at the agencies - most really cant grasp the notion of contract or project work when I present my body of work and gigs.

    All the best anyhow Rob - You'd fit into Stagings either in Operations or in Accounts sorting the daily shows and speccing the daily shows..

    Just a thought.

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