As a mechanic, Danielle Couchman loves having the skills to fix her own car instead of getting someone else to do it.
“I’ve always been interested in cars - my dad was a drag racing driver and I got into the car scene as a teenager. I wanted to work with cars, but I also wanted to learn how to fix them for myself and not have to always rely on other people for help.”
Danielle enrolled in UCOL Wairarapa’s
New Zealand Certificate in Automotive Engineering (Level 3)
after taking a few years away from work to spend more time with her daughter.
“I hadn’t been at school in a while, so getting back into that kind of environment was a little hard, but it didn’t take long to settle in. I felt a bit shy at first, because I was the only girl in our class and I was one of the older students, but our lecturers always made the class feel welcoming.
“All of the lecturers made the effort to ensure that we achieved our goals. Once the class got to know each other, we formed little groups and helped each other. We had a lot of fun.”
Wanting to develop her skills further, Danielle took on a work experience role at JP Motors while studying. This was a great opportunity for her to apply what she learnt at UCOL.
“I had been looking for work experience for a while. I asked at JP Motors and they said I could start the next week. It really helped that it’s such a friendly work environment and everyone was happy to answer my questions. I’m so thankful that I’m still here, now doing my apprenticeship.”
Studying the Level 3 Certificate at UCOL meant that that Danielle was able to jump straight into Level 4 when she started her apprenticeship. Her time at UCOL also helped her develop good study habits.
“When I was at UCOL, I made sure I got all of my theory work done during the day because my life is so busy. Now I usually study on my lunch break rather than having to do it at home. That way I have more time to spend with my daughter and do everything else.”
In the short term, Danielle is focused on finishing her apprenticeship. Beyond that she wants to get into the growing field of electric vehicles, and maybe one day open her own shop and help other women get into the trade.
Danielle says it’s hard to make time for everything when you’re studying and raising a child, but she would do it all again.
“I’d tell other parents who want to study to just go for it. There is childcare out there and there are people out there who are willing to help. It’s never too late to follow your dreams. It’s never too late to learn a new skill.”