Just over a month ago, Joe Kennedy was like many other Year 12 students at Bendigo Senior Secondary College, relieved to be finishing his VCE exams after 13 long years of schooling.

But while others were packing their bags and heading north for Schoolies, Joe pulled on his work boots and turned up to his first day on the job as an apprentice with Gerard House Builders.

It’s a pathway Joe has been preparing for since he was a primary student and first dreamed of becoming a builder.

“It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, so I started studying VET Building and Construction in Year 10,” Joe said. “When I came to BSSC’s Open Day in 2015 I spoke to teachers David Jacob and Tim White about subject choices and it really flowed on from there. The advice I got really set me up for where I am now.”

As Joe’s new boss Gerard House said, “He stood out in his interview because he was so well prepared and knew exactly what he was applying for… that’s a real credit to his schooling.”

Joe studied VCE English, Business Management, and Design and Technology-Woods along with his VET subject, but credits much of his success in landing the job he wanted to the advice of the Managed Individual Pathways (MIPs) team at BSSC.

“I went and spoke to the MIPs team midway through the year and they were able to help me get my resume together and get my name out there,” Joe said. “They know the local job market so well and were able to give great advice about the best businesses to approach and how to go about it.”

Joe did two separate stints of Structured Workplace Learning in 2017—one with an electrician and one with a cabinet maker—and says it was instrumental in his career choice.

“I really didn’t enjoy either of my work placements, but that was a positive for me because it made it really clear that building was what I wanted to do,” Joe said. “My VET Building and Construction classes were always my favourite and Work Experience just reinforced it.”

One month into his four-year apprenticeship, Joe is enjoying the steep learning curve, coming to terms with the early starts, but is realistic about the path ahead.

“The great thing about studying VET Building and Construction at BSSC was that David was always straight-up about how it would be out there in the ‘real world’,” Joe said. “There was no bullshit, which I reckon makes it easier when you’re out there going for jobs and especially when you finally get out on worksites.”

His long term goal is a simple one. “I guess I’m like all the apprentices who’ve come before me… I want to have my own ute with the trailer on the back, my own set of tools, and be earning some decent money.”

And with Joe’s attitude and work ethic, there’s no doubt he’ll get there.