Doing what you love for work might not mean exactly what you think…

Cropped6It’s quite a common saying ‘do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ But what if there are different kinds of passion that can fuel what you do for a hobby and what you do for work? We spoke to a young drainlayer about her adventure into the trades and why she thinks she made the right call.

Alana Davies has always been an “outdoors, in-the-dirt kind of girl” and, as a kid, remembers wanting to jump on the digger and be a drainlayer just like her dad. However, when she left home at 16, she decided she wanted to work with horses, and turn her hobby into her job. “I guess with my friends and hobbies, I got a bit sidetracked from the idea of working in trades,” Alana says, and it was only two years later that she gave drainlaying any serious thought.

Taking a leap of faith

“Working with horses was amazing,” Alana explains, “but after a couple of years I realised that there can be different types of passion to fuel your hobbies and your work, and I didn’t want to lose that spark for horses. So, I decided I wanted to keep it as a hobby.”

“I’m quite close to my dad, he played a huge part in getting me into the industry. He really motivated me to think about drainlaying as an option.”

She started working with her dad and realised pretty quickly she was onto something.

“At first, I was a bit worried I wouldn’t be as good as the boys, but I learnt pretty quickly that heck yeah I definitely can be!”

What’s an adventure without a few hurdles?

Deciding drainlaying was what she wanted Alana signed up for the apprenticeship. However, soon after this, her parents moved to Manawatu. “I moved down with them and Dad took the drainlaying business with us, but where we were there just wasn’t enough work for both of us, so unfortunately we had to go our separate ways, “Alana says.

Because of her love for animals, Alana found it a natural fit when she started working on a dairy farm, but she got quite ill and had to take a lot of time off work. During this time, she started thinking about the future of her career and how she missed drainlaying. “Drainlaying challenges me mentally and physically, in a way that other jobs haven’t done before… I knew I had to give it another go,” Alana says.

A year after being forced to leave drainlaying she set out to continue her apprenticeship and give the trade a second shot.

Onward and upwards

It took a lot of effort, time, and networking, but she's now halfway through her apprenticeship and it’s fair to say she’s loving it.

“What I love about drainlaying is the uniqueness of each site. It’s such an amazing feeling when you’ve been hard at work and at the end of it you sit back with your team and look at what you’ve achieved, it’s awesome.”

With her mind now set, Alana has very clear and focused goals and aspirations for the future, “First I want to get qualified and certified, and then eventually I would like work with my dad again,” she says.

While she loves drainlaying, Alana has hinted that there might be a plumbing apprenticeship in the pipeline, “There are a few aspects of plumbing that I really enjoy, but I want to remain focused on completing drainlaying first and then I’ll just see where life takes me.” No matter what she does or where she goes, it’s pretty obvious that Alana’s determination and enthusiasm will see her through.

Alana has a lot of advice for women who are thinking about entering trades and has chatted at an event at an Auckland all-girls high school. Keep an eye out for the next part of her story to hear what she had to say.