Breaking the Barriers - Women Can Do Anything! | Mildura Intimate Portraiture
JESS Smith is a diamond in the rough - literally.
Currently studying to be a diesel mechanic, Jess, who is from Broken Hill, has always had an interest in fixing things.
She recalls how it landed her in hot water as a child.
“I have always been interested in mechanics for as long as I can remember,” she said.
“I was always pulling apart everything I could get my hands on just to see how it worked."
“I remember I was about 10 or 11, and mum bought this brand new toaster home - but it was one of those fancy ones that made an unusual pattern on the toast when it was cooking."
“It wasn't even 24 hours old and I pulled it apart because I wanted to know how it did it."
“Little did I know the trouble I was in when mum found out.”
The 23-year-old got her introduction to mechanics about five years ago when she had to complete work experience as part of her school studies.
“You got a few things to choose from - things like beauty, construction, hospitality, mechanics or medical,” she said.
“I ended up choosing mechanics and did my work placement at Warrnambool Bus Lines as a mechanic/trade assistant."
“After the two weeks the boss was super happy at how I did things and what I knew, so ended up getting an apprenticeship out of it.”
Jess said she has always enjoyed working on her own cars because she had a passion to learn. She also wanted to prove that she’s not just a pretty face - she knows what she is doing as well.
“There is a lot I like about being a mechanic,” Jess said.
“Each job is different to the last, which is something I really enjoy because it’s not repetitive. Also the people you meet along the way is great."
“Everyone has different knowledge so there will always be someone around to help.”
Of course, being the minority in a male dominated field does have its negatives.
“My main hate, and I use that word strongly, is the amount of sexist people still out there - even in this day and age,” she said.
“As a female mechanic you will meet some people who will belittle you and talk down to you because you are a girl.”
There have even been people requesting Jess didn’t work on their vehicle because she is female and wouldn’t know what to do or make a mistake, but she’s had the last laugh at times, still carrying out the work.
“Ninety-nine percent of mechanics are male and one percent female, but my thoughts on that is that everyone needs to realise and understand that no job has to be gender specific,” she said.
“If you can put your mind to it, ask the right questions and are mentally prepared for the tasks anyone can be the right person for the job."
“There are still a lot of women out there who want to try these kinds of jobs but are afraid and my advice for them is to give it a go.”
While Jess said it’s best not to do any major mechanical repairs to your car if you don’t know what you are doing, there is maintenance you can carry out - and if you are unsure how to do these things, YouTube is always a good source to learn from.
“For me, servicing your car is pretty straight forward; eg lubrication top ups, oil changes as well as adding air to tyres or tyre rotations,” Jess said, “But not everyone knows how to do it."
“I know a lot of men and women who actually don't know the basics on how to do them but there are things you can do to inform yourself and learn how to do the basics."
“You could always get someone who knows how to do it to show you a couple of times and the first time you do it by yourself just get them to stand there and watch.”
She added that she thinks everyone should learn how to change a tyre.
“The worst thing I have come across is people of both genders being stuck in the middle of nowhere and not knowing how to change a tyre,” Jess said.
“Also learning how to tell if your engine is low on oil and radiator fluid - they are the two main things that are required to have a healthy engine."
“Checking your fluids is best to do in the morning before you go for a drive."
“Services are generally every 5000km to 15,000km depending on how old your car is.”
As for indicators that your car needs a trip to the mechanic - she said the following are things to look out for:
Jess said it is always best to get a qualified mechanic to look at your car if you are unsure, as even the smallest things can turn into something major.
“But women need to get out there and try these kinds of things,” she said. “Just because someone says you can't doesn’t mean you can't.
“If you sit there and live your life listening to people that are constantly telling you you can’t, you won't be good at these kinds of jobs to prove them wrong."
“Everyone can do it, it just takes a lot of experience, patience, studying and time, but if you put your mind to it, you will succeed.”
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Mildura resident and Photographer, Lauren Southwell launched Pure Beauty in late June, 2018 & is committed to helping woman feel beautiful, sexy and empowered through the art of Boudoir Photography.