Keen to crack career in Automotive? The only thing stopping you is YOU!

That’s the word from Fairview Education automotive student and former Hillcrest High School student Sarah Paki, Ngāpuhi.

“I wish that I had been more confident and pushed my self to do this training ages ago! Fairviews is cool! I like the knowledge and the constant learning. Everyday on the job you’re learning something new about a different car and putting pieces of knowledge together and different skills you’ve developed.”

The FutureForce® Team sat down with Sarah for the scoop about her career…

Sarah Paki

Automotive Student

Top Career Tip

“The only thing stopping you is YOU.”

Fairviews is cool.

A Chat with Sarah about her role

Sarah Paki

Former Hillcrest High School student

What do you do at Fairview?

At the moment just replacing minor things like ball joints, tyres, shocks… Sometimes we do fun stuff like pulling engines apart. We use a lot of hand tools, power tools, air hoses, tyre pressures and air guns, tyre machine, balancer, rattle guns, impact guns, even sand blasters!

How did you get started?

I’ve always had the interest in automotive but I never felt like I had enough knowledge to get into it. It was quite intimidating for me, so I just found a course where you learn the basics and you can work your way up to a confident level to start an apprenticeship. My partner was really into cars so he was really like a good push for me. We plan on building a car together! We’ve got a car at home which we plan to fix up.

What have you learnt so far?

So much! This course is really cool because you start from the most basic things like tools, and then you work your way up so you get a really thorough understanding of how everything works. For example how a battery works internally, and just how every part in car systems work and little things that you’ve never even heard of! I learned about time management and keeping busy on the job when there is no work to do. Being reliable, and to show up the same time when the real mechanics are there is important too.

What do you love about your training?

I like the knowledge and the constant learning. Everyday on the job you’re learning something new about a different car and putting pieces of knowledge together and different skills you’ve developed.

How did you transition from school to work?

I never personally liked school. I never really got it, so I just mainly hung out with my friends and after high school I went straight into work and I worked all the way through because I loved working. I started this course after I had my baby, because it was the only time I actually didn’t have a job. This course is really cool because you do a mix of work and theory. So you’re not sitting in a classroom all day, here you’re on the tools and putting what you’re learning to practice, so I found the transition really easy.

What do you like most about Fairview?

Everyone is really kind and they’re really patient with me personally. They meet everyone where they’re at in their learning level. They’re always willing to help and it shows they love teaching! The mix of the practical and the theory, as well as the learning modules are layed out really nicely. It’s a cool place to be, I’d recommend it to anyone!

What challenges have you had to overcome?

Probably the biggest one for me is to be apart from my baby. That’s really hard for me. And to not feel selfish to invest into something that is really important to me and important long term for my family as well. Also self confidence and not second-guessing myself… to not doubt myself when I know what I’m doing is right!

What do you wish you knew when you left school?

I wish I had taken advantage of the all tech classes we had available like motors, electronics, metal work. I think it would have made a big difference and helped me to have the confidence to get straight into schooling for mechanics or an apprenticeship.

Where would you like to go with your career?

I would like to be a fully qualified mechanic and my dream is to open a little shop in my shed at home and fix cars up with me and my partner.

Tips & Advice

What sort of person do you need to be for this work?

Patient and thorough. You have to make sure everything is done properly because it’s the safety of others that you have to worry about. Having good intiative is really beneficial. You also need a passion for it… you need to love what you’re doing to do a good job.

What advice you have for someone looking at this type of work?

Just do it! The more you put it to practice outside of work, the more it will stick in your brain. Even just watching YouTube videos.

What does someone need to know when starting out at work?

Show initiative by putting yourself out there, and be ready to help others on the team. Basic skills like time management and efficiency is important too.

What advice do you have for keeping balance/managing stress?

Your day starts the night before. For example, last night I got everything ready, I packed our lunches, our bags and got our clothes out to wear for the day. So in the morning we just get ready, have breakfast and get in the car and go.

A chat with Fairview Education Team…

What do you look for in a young person? What sort of person is ideal for this role?
  • There has to be an interest
  • Attendance and reliability
  • Good communication – a text or call is fine
  • A good attitude!
  • Everything else can be taught later!
Tell us a bit of background about the business

David: Fairviews was established in Hamilton in 1967 which is almost 50 years ago. The training department has been here since 1999 and we’ve had around about 1500 students involved in the programme to date. Fairviews used to be out in the country and was previously relocated in town where the library is in Garden Place! We also just recently found out that Fairview Motors is the biggest Ford dealer in the country!

Why is it a great Sector to work in? What sort of opportunities are in this Sector?

David: There’s lots of different jobs within the Industry! I think people don’t realise the job opportunities that are available. Initially you think about being mechanic or a technician but there’s much more than that. We’ve got a tyre department so we do wheel alignments, we refit tyres, as well as the mechanical side of things. We’ve got two franchises, there’s Ford and Mazda so there’s variety there. Air conditioning specialists, electrical specialists (electric cars), panel and paint (panel beaters), car grooming (washing cars, cleaning cars, getting ready for sale/customers to take back), parts department (selling/buying parts), sales person (car dealers) and even diesel mechanics.

Kath: You can get seperate qualifications in all areas, you can do the basic one we do at Fairview Education and branch off, so learning and job opportunities are endless here.

David: We’ve even had some people in the management team start off grooming cars or as apprentice mechanics and they’ve gradually worked their way through the company and ended up being the boss!

What work experience do you recommend? Useful subjects/skills/qualifications?

David: You don’t have to predominantly have experience working with cars but it helps!

Kath: Some people get part time jobs in Repco and places like that, which is really good because they get to know the different parts. 

David: And it actually shows us that they’re genuinely interested, they might have left school and had a part time job even if it’s sweeping the floor at a garage and they’re keen to get involved! And that’s usually a good indicator that this student is interested in the industry and will probably do quite well.

Kath: Useful subjects will be Maths and English. Measurement especially! We work with a lot of millimetres and decimals of a millimetre. We find a lot of students don’t actually know how to convert measurements.

David: Physics and Sciences are really important. You got to have a bit of a head to understand that sort of stuff because that’s what we’re dealing with.

Kath: The big thing is a drivers license! We don’t turn away people without licenses, but if you want to work in an automotive industry you have to get your license, so at least be working towards it and then keep it.

David: Get your learners and then get your restricted. A restricted in manual is a really good qualification. Without your license it’s much more difficult to get into a lot of workshops so it’s crucial. You can’t drive a car into the workshop without a license.

Anything else you would like to add?

Kath: There’s a perception that you don’t have to be smart to be a mechanic, and it’s changing a lot to be more diagnostic. It’s a specialised job. You need to actually be good at theory and be able to put that theory into practise. It’s really a mix of both theory and practical together not just one.

David: Also money-wise, like when you leave shcool and you get into a trade you’re getting paid straight away through an apprenticeship. If you go to university you’re not necessarily. You’re actually got a big advantage getting into an apprenticeship financially, by the time you’re 30 you’re going to be quite a lot of better off.

David: Also for females, getting them into trades is easier. In our Education class there are 6 girls out of 15 which is a huge improvement from years ago. So it’s becoming more and more common to have females, which is awesome to see.

For more information


Kath Logan

Student & Academic Coordinator

David Sheely

Assistant Training Manager

Download a Snapshot of Sarah’s Career Profile