My name is Gemma Linehan. I’m currently an apprentice at Cork Education Training Centre in Bishopstown. Serving my time just outside Mallow, I’m at a garage, Ballyhass Motors, with my father. This is my fourth year (phase 7) of apprenticeship training to become a Motor Mechanic. Almost there!

It all began when I was younger, seeing my grandfather and father having such dedication and interest, so determined, so much passion, that it always made me wonder what it was like to have a job that was completely different.

That every day you are learning something new, not just a job where you turn around in the morning and think to yourself “ugh work in the morning”, instead a job that I also felt passion for.

Gemma Linehan pictured in CIT, Cork where she is studying as an apprentice mechanic.
Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

When I was younger I use to take part in hot rod racing, and that’s where I felt all the interest come in, and in secondary school I found myself helping my father out in the garage a lot more. I wasn’t doing jobs too elaborate, I was just changing tyres and other basic jobs around the garage. Every day was a different in the workshop. You learn something new every day, changing what skills you use, meeting someone new every day! I found that I really enjoyed working with my hands rather than sitting in an office or classroom all day. I am the sort of girl that likes to keep on my feet and move around.

One day after school I was with my father, and a woman came looking for us to fix a problem in her car. Little did I know that she was working with Cork training centre.

My father starting talking to her. The woman found it rare that a girl would be helping her father out in the garage. She started to question me about cars, and if I enjoyed working with them. She asked if I would like to study more about cars at the centre. Then she explained to me about the way the centre worked.

At first I wasn’t sure what to think of the offer. I knew that there were not many women in this line of work. But as I thought about it more, I knew it was a good idea to get in to this line of work. I enjoyed doing it and it’s what I wanted. Although there are a lot more men doing it, it doesn’t mean women shouldn’t be able for it.

I will always remember the first day I started in the training centre, the smile on my teachers face; that proud look said it all. I was panicked all that time for nothing. I feared that you would be treated different for being the odd one out, but in fact I couldn’t have asked for better treatment! The support and encouragement that was provided was something outstanding. I feel in love with the procedure that Cork training centre had to offer us students, because they offer us a different way of learning, the reason being that throughout the apprenticeship we spend half our time in college and after, our time out on placement, which gives us a chance to see the real world. They provide us students the chance to show our skills, experiment and learn from our mistakes.

I’m delighted that I went for what I wanted even if it is classed as a “man’s job” because at the end of the day if it’s what you really want go for it, make no regrets. If I could change one thing, it would definitely to see more women in this line of trade. A lot of women seem to think they wouldn’t be able for it, but believe me we are definitely able for it!