Nadine Callaghan has just landed a 'dream' start to a career in the motor business. And she wants other young women to know they can do it too.
Nadine (22), from Moynalty, Kells, Co Meath has just finished the Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Technology course at the Cavan Institute and is due to graduate in October. As part of the course, she got two weeks' work placement with well-known dealership Colm Quinn BMW in Athlone. When the time was up, they offered her a four-year apprenticeship to train as a BMW technician.
Naturally, she was "absolutely thrilled" and has just started in her new role. But it wasn't always so straightforward.
She had always tricked around with cars (as these pictures show): fixing and driving them.
But she never really thought of becoming a technician. "It didn't feel like the motor business was for me."
As a lover of animals she felt veterinary was to be her career but the course she chose didn't suit her.
She went to Australia - she had two brothers there - but returned when her step dad James died suddenly. James had always encouraged her to be a 'mechanic'. "I'd say to him: 'I'm a girl and girls don't do that.' But when James died I made up my mind. It was lack of confidence that held me back. I found it hard approaching garages. They'd ask where I'd worked. I had nothing to show." She believes many others feel the same or have had similar experiences. She's here to tell them they're wrong: if they want to, they can.
She got a place on the nine-month QQI course at the Cavan Institute which started last September. She drove up and down and "worked part- time and saved like hell" to afford her 10-year-old BMW 320d transport. "I love Beemers so I said if I'm going to work in the industry it is going to be with BMW."
A friend helped her get the work-experience slot at Colm Quinn's. "I absolutely loved the placement. The staff were great and made me feel really at home. There was no awkwardness at all. It was like I'd been there for a long time," she said.
"Then Enda Murphy, the service manager, brought me into the office one day and asked what was next for me? I told him I'd go looking for an apprenticeship. He said he had several positions - not all as a technician. I said all I wanted to do was train as a technician."
She finished her course before starting her training two weeks ago. "I'm learning to be a technician," she beamed. It will take four years: a mix of training at Quinns and 20-week college slots. She's excited and all that but wants to encourage other women to follow suit.
"Girls should be encouraged more to get into the business. I've had some come up to me saying they wouldn't do it because they don't have the 'man strength'. They are put off by the view it's a 'man industry'."
But it was a man, her tutor Robert Ledwith at Cavan Institute, who encouraged her so much.
"I owe a big thank you to Robert, Joe English, Annmarie Lacey (Cavan Institute) and Colm Quinn BMW," she said.
"And I'd like women to realise: the motor industry can be for them too."