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June 6, 2019

SCE trainee comes full circle

After more than two years of blood, sweat and, perhaps, a few tears completing her Administration Traineeship the dedication and hard work is beginning to pay off for SCE’s Tara Templeton.

After successfully completing her second nationally recognised training course earlier this year, Tara (pictured on the left) is now in the running for the 2019 Illawarra and South East NSW Region Trainee of the Year. The prestigious Award is presented to a trainee who has been outstanding in all aspects of their training.

“I’ve been working with SCE since Aug 2016, completing my Certificate III in Business Administration before concentrating on my Diploma of Business for the last two years,” Tara explains. "Getting nominated for this award is the icing on the cake.”

Reaching the Final later this month is no small feat with Tara just one of just five nominees to do so. The initial shortlist of 38 trainees also included fellow SCE trainee Mikayla Banach.

An alternative career path

Tara went straight to Uni after finishing high school, enrolling in an Undergraduate Degree in Business and Commerce, majoring in Accounting, before deciding to postpone her studies after 18 months and gain work experience in the field.

“I was at Uni for a little while, but it wasn’t really working out for me. I knew I had to get a job, but I also wanted something challenging,” Tara says with a smile.

While on the job hunt Tara came across an advertisement for a traineeship at SCE through Apprenticeship Careers Australia

“While I was looking around for a job, I was keeping in mind something that I could do and get a qualification under my belt as well.”

SCE’s first administration trainee

After landing a start in the Transport Division at SCE Tara found her calling working in payroll and accounts, becoming SCE’s first administration trainee.

“I enjoyed doing Year 11 and 12 maths and I knew accounting was what I wanted to do.

“But when I was at University I really struggled with the fundamentals. I couldn’t do bank reconciliations; I just couldn’t figure it out. Now I do them every day!”

“I couldn’t wrap my head around it but now that I am actually doing the work, I ask myself, “What was I struggling with (laughs).”

During her time at SCE Tara has been involved in all aspects of the accounting function including payroll, timesheet entry, accounts receivable, data entry, administration, journals and banking.

Tara admits while the application and interview process, especially in front of the judging panel, was nerve-wracking it has been worthwhile experience, regardless of the ultimate outcome.

“It’s been a bit daunting, but I have had the support of SCE and my supervisor Kissaine who has been encouraging me.”

Mikayla’s Story

Gravitating towards an alternative career path was a similar story for 21-year-old Mikayla.

“I started a social science degree at Uni, straight out of school, but I was unsure if I wanted to be there, so I also applied for traineeships.

Mikayla  (pictured right) completed a Certificate III in Business through the Australian College of Commerce and Management after joining SCE. Originally employed in a part-time capacity, Mikayla became a full-time employee of Apprenticeship Careers Australia within six months of undertaking her first qualification. After she completed this qualification, she commenced a second traineeship, a Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping, and became a full-time employee of SCE.

“In hindsight, I actually did Business Studies at school and really liked it. I probably should have started in business at Uni and may have stayed there but I really like working in this field now,” Mikayla explains.

“When you are working you get a feel for what a job entails. You can study at Uni and decide you hate it but this way you learn on the job as you go.”

Mikayla says there was some friendly rivalry in the workplace as the two close friends made the initial shortlisting.

“We joked about beating each other but we were both really happy for one another just to be nominated. I’d be so happy if Tara wins.”

Part of the culture

With up to 20 trainees working at SCE at any one time, SCE Accountant Kissaine O’Donnell explains it is a crucial aspect of the company’s recruitment strategy.

“We employ trainees across a broad range of skills and demographics from young people like Tara and Mikayla to older adult trainees as well.

“A younger trainee may have less experience, but they bring that enthusiasm and positivity to the team whereas older trainees have experiences in life and can handle more stressful situations.”

“It’s also part of our commitment to the communities in which we operate. We want to be a company that brings in people from all walks of life not just one group of people.”

Back to the future

Meanwhile, for Tara, it looks like University may be back on the cards again.

“The management team at SCE are really supporting me to go back to Uni and so is my mum so I think I will be going back at the start of next year, but I’ll still be working while I am at Uni too,” Tara said.

Kissaine also agrees Tara is ready for tertiary studies again.

“While I’ve only been Tara’s supervisor for three months, I’ve seen her in situations where she has been unsure if she is going in the right direction.

“However, as soon as she takes that step out into something new, she thinks, “I can do this” and that’s fantastic.

“To see Tara come full circle and contemplate a return to Uni after not enjoying it the first time around is wonderful.”

The Illawarra and South East NSW Region Trainee of the Year will be announced on 28 June 2019.