Where are they now – Kate Elstone

At secondary school I studied the core English and Maths subjects. My elective subjects were choices such as Music, Biology and VCD. However my favourite subject, which I managed to keep doing throughout my schooling, was Design and Technology (Wood).

After graduating from Christian College in 2012 I went straight into full time work as an apprentice cabinetmaker. Throughout my apprenticeship, I was able to advance my skills through competitions in woodworking where I studied at The Gordon. I got to the national level through the Worldskills Competition, where I was unsuccessful in taking a place, but was able to secure a position in a secondary program called World Wood Day.

Being a part of this program took me overseas to countries like Turkey and Nepal where I worked with other woodworkers from all over the world to both compete, and exchange knowledge with each other. I completed my apprenticeship in 2016 at the same company I started it with and was lucky enough to buy my own house just before Christmas of the same year.

My forever dream was to run my own business, so I decided to have a crack. I was lucky enough to taper down the number of days that I worked with my employer until I was full-time and out on my own. I managed to work full-time for myself for about a year and managed to do things I never thought I would, such as complete a full house lot of cabinetry from start to finish. That year felt like the longest and hardest year, and I learned a lot from it.

The opportunity to return to my original job arose, and that’s where I currently am. At work, I am both on the factory floor making cabinetry and running the 3D design program for client drawings.

Compared with when I left school, I am a very different person today. I don’t notice it much but my boss always has the occasional joke reminding me about the shy apprentice he took on that used to turn bright red with embarrassment. I’m a lot more outgoing now.

Christian College prepared me for my career pathway by not only providing me with access to a career advisor throughout my senior years at school, but also the way they taught values such as respect, empathy and humility during my schooling, definitely helped me to slide into to the workforce with ease after graduating. At first, I never really believed that my schooling had that much of an impact on me, however as I grow older, I find myself falling back to the key values I was taught at a young age as you get a clearer picture of what is most important in life. ‘Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself’ strongly resonates with me.

What I really like about what I’m doing now is having the ability to design and make something from nothing – it’s incredible – but I often forget about how valuable that is until the project is complete. It only seems to fully sink in after you can stand back and take that breath after every task has been completed. The great sense of accomplishing things in my work is what I enjoy most about my job.