The NT Training Awards - Rachel Harpur
My name is Rachel Harpur, and I am a Nursery Educator at Journey Early Learning Durack. I completed my Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care while working and studying as a full time trainee with my mentors Jo Fletcher, our Manager, and Emily Sharp, our Educational Leader here at Journey Durack.
Since completing my certificate III, I have continued my professional learning this year studying my Diploma in Early childhood, learning and growing to be the best that I can be. This year I was delighted to have been nominated for ‘Trainee of the Year’ in the Northern Territory Training Awards.
The NT Training Awards are hosted by the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation each year and recognise exceptional businesses, training organisations, apprentices, trainees, trainers and students across the Top End. After the initial judging process, the successful applicants are announced as Finalists and attend the Ambassador Preparation Weekend. This year the weekend was held over the 22nd-24th of June and I am honoured to have been able to attend as a finalist in my category.
Being announced as a finalist was a very proud moment for me! It was a wonderful feeling to have my efforts and successes thus far acknowledged and celebrated by those around me. I now have the opportunity to be a part of something bigger and promote Vocational Education and Training and the opportunities it provides. I would like to thank my Centre Manager, Jo Fletcher, for giving me this incredible opportunity and for always believing in me! Education and Care continues to be a rewarding profession and I am grateful to belong to such an engaging team like the one we have here at Durack with Journey Early Learning.
Attending the Ambassador Preparation Weekend as part of the NT Training Awards was a very beneficial experience. On Friday all the Finalists attended an official welcome at Government House, hosted by the Honourable Vicki O’Halloran - Administrator of the Northern Territory. I was honoured to have met this inspiring woman and was truly humbled to learn that she has a background in Early Childhood Education and Care. She was thrilled to learn that myself and my trainer/ fellow finalist, Kaylee Appleyard from Alana Kaye Training, were following in similar footsteps.
On Saturday, we met at Development House where we were lucky enough to undertake multiple professional development sessions and network with our fellow finalists. Amy Hetherington was a great host and spoke to us all about networking and silliness for the sake of sanity. We were also visited by Doug and Annette Gillanders from Biznorth Pty Ltd. who spoke about DISC Personality Profiling and how each individual can maximise their potential. There were also past-winners and mentors available to talk with throughout the entire weekend who passed on some great wisdom and advice. I felt very welcomed and comfortable around our mentors and hosts, including Chantelle Salandanan, Bradely Malby, Thomas Moulds and Amy Williams.
There was so much to learn during the Ambassador Preparation Weekend, in both a professional and personal sense. Getting to know the other finalists was an incredible experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed the team building experiences we undertook including a flat-pack challenge! In this challenge each team teamed up by personality types (as per the DISC profiles that we learnt about with Doug and Annette) raced against the clock to assemble a flat packed TV cabinet from Kmart. My team came in second by a close call, but I was overwhelmed by how well our team worked together and thrilled to work under the positive guidance of a fellow finalist named Amber.
There were many other activities and experiences we had a go at throughout the day on Saturday including some awesome networking ones with Amy. For this; we all paired up and had one minute to tell a story off the top of our heads while our partner was to do nothing but listen. This was an interesting concept, aimed to help us realise how long 60 seconds seems when you are put on the spot or nervous, when in reality it is quite short. This was a great way to prepare us for Sunday’s judging interviews and camera-time! After this experience, it was then our partners turn to tell a story and we had to listen. The preceding experience that we all had a great laugh about was swapping partners and telling our old partners story to them. It was a great test to see who was actually listening; and helped us to become aware of how easily our minds can wander. We were encouraged to be in the moment when engaging with others, with a focus on networking events. One little gem of knowledge that Amy shared with us is that being nervous is very similar to being excited. Your body gives off the same cues and reacts in the same way, so when we become nervous, it can be very beneficial to tell ourselves instead that we are excited!
We wrapped up the Ambassador Preparation Weekend on Sunday with some awesome tips from our mentors and past-winners; filming snippets of our stories for the Gala Awards Night in September; and of course, our judging interviews. All of the camera-magic was worked by Shane Ecen who was a delight to work with! He shared great stories of his life’s successes and passion and made us all look great through the lens.
Our judging interviews were nerve-wracking to begin with, but our judges made us feel at home and welcome. My interview went for just over twenty minutes and I spoke about my training story. I covered topics including why I chose a traineeship, the benefits and challenges of working and training, and how VET has helped me to get where I am today.
I am incredibly grateful for the VET Sector and all that it has done for me. If successful, the winner of each category is given the opportunity to represent your State or Territory in the Australian Training Awards later in the year, and to become an Ambassador for Vocational Education and Training. This is something that I feel strongly about doing, and so I look forward to the Gala Awards Night on September 22nd, when the winners are announced!