Apprentice Engineer, Aer Lingus
When she was little, Hannah Richardson, an Apprentice Engineer, loved fixing things. Joining the male-dominated engineering sector was never an issue for her.
My dad is an agricultural mechanic, so I was always around engines growing up. Ever since I was little — just five or six years old — I was interested in fixing things, and he’d let me help him. I was never told: ‘You’re a girl. You can’t do that.’
I always liked maths, but at secondary school I chose technology over science, and I’m glad I did. It’s very ‘hands on’, so it suited me well. In fact, it was my technology teacher who suggested aircraft engineering to me. I’d never have thought of it myself, but she got me onto an aviation technology course in Transition Year at secondary school — and I really enjoyed it.Some young women might find that intimidating, but everyone is so nice. And at the end of the day, I’m there to do a job and no-one’s going easy on me.
I went to an all girls’ secondary where apprenticeships were never talked about. None of my friends were interested in engineering, so I guess I was the tomboy of the group.
The best route into an apprenticeship
When I was 18, I went to college for two years to study aviation technology. I thought that would be the best route into an apprenticeship, and I was right because the knowledge I learned on that course was invaluable. During my apprenticeship interview I was asked questions that I knew thanks to my college studies. It was also good background for my first year apprenticeship exams.
I started my four-year apprenticeship in 2017, aged 20, and I’m just coming to the end of my second year. At the moment, I’m at college for six weeks but, previously, I worked at Aer Lingus at Dublin Airport for a year.
On day shifts we were working on wide-bodied transatlantic aircraft; on night shifts we were working on narrow-bodied aircraft going to Europe. I’ll be back at Aer Lingus over the summer. It can be challenging; but if you enjoy working with your hands, it’s a great job.
Getting satisfaction from a job well done
In my year, there are ten apprentices: three girls and seven lads. Before going in, I wasn’t put off by the ‘male-dominated’ perception of the sector. Because of my dad’s work, I was used to a male environment. I do work with a lot of men, though — and a lot of older men. Some young women might find that intimidating, but everyone is so nice. And at the end of the day, I’m there to do a job and no-one’s going easy on me. I’ve signed up for it and I’m going to do it. I get a lot of job satisfaction from a job well done.
It’s funny: I went to an all girls’ secondary where apprenticeships were never talked about. None of my friends were interested in engineering, so I guess I was the tomboy of the group. They’re always asking me about it now, though, because no-one else they know does it! As for the future, I’ll see where my qualifications take me, because this is a job I can do worldwide.