Yeppoon woman trades beach life for the coal front
MIKAELA Richter's nerves tingled as she walked through Blackwater's Curragh Mine gates on her first day as an apprentice.
Four years on, the 23-year-old walked out of the gates for the last time as a fully qualified female tradeswoman in an industry dominated by men.
The Yeppoon woman reflected on being one of two female apprentices at the mine site as she packed up her belongings ready for the two-and-a-half-hour trip home last week.
Mikaela said although her first day was "quite scary", support from older mentors put her at ease.
"I still remember my first day when I went on site with two older male workers and they were just so calm and made me laugh the whole time," she said.
Mikaela was first inspired to pursue an electrical career after she watched her older brother succeed in the trade.
"I was fascinated by it and my brother was a huge factor in me deciding to apply," she said.
"Out of 40 tradespeople on the site, only one was female."
Over the years, Mikaela watched more women enter the mining industry and mentored them along the way.
"While I was out here I was doing Women in Mining meetings where women get together and talk about what it feels like being a woman out here," she said.
"All my mentors were really passionate and it helped shape the workplace for women."
Mikalea encouraged any young woman who was interested in a trade to take the leap. "It felt like a really level playing field for me and I recommend any girl to see what it's like," she said.
"I had a girl message me asking how to get into the industry and just said if you're willing to get into it don't be scared, just do it."
Although the concept of never working at Curragh again hadn't quite hit her, Mikaela said she was excited about new ventures closer to home.
She plans to take some time off the mine site and work in retail.
"I'm not giving up my trade. My goal is to be an electrical supervisor," she said.