Working as a mechanic, Dean (Sophanith) Oum’s typical day is equally challenging as it is rewarding.

He can be doing anything from servicing vehicles to fitting a tow bar or installing new accessories.

But it’s that variety and the fast-paced nature of the job that keeps Dean wanting more.

“The only time I feel pressure is when there are too many jobs in a day and you have to finish it on time,” he says. “Sometimes you can’t figure out and diagnose the problem. That’s a real challenge!

Dean tried a few different trades before he found the right fit.

After immigrating to Australia at age 16, he studied a Diploma of Building at Holmesglen, then began a plumbing apprenticeship with Chisholm.

Two years in, he realised his heart wasn’t in plumbing, so he enrolled in Chisholm’s Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology.

“Initially my aim was just to know a bit more about cars, how to fix them and maintain my own car,” Dean says. “When I went into do the apprenticeship, I started to really like it. It’s great to know about the engine and how everything works.”

The more Dean learnt about cars, the greater his thirst for knowledge became.

“I like hands on jobs,” he says. “I loved practicing with the teachers, going into the cars, undoing things, dropping the transmission, changing oil, learning how the brakes work and everything else. English is my second language, so sometimes the theory was a challenge, but I completed the four years and found it very interesting.”

Dean nailed the course and was even nominated for the Auto Apprentice of the Year Award at the Chisholm Education Awards.

“The teachers were very supportive,” Dean says. “Any questions you ask, they really know what they’re talking about.”

In his current role as a mechanic, Dean uses the practical skills he learnt at Chisholm every day.

He says one of the things he loves is that he is still learning on the job as he goes.

“Cars are always changing and technology is always advancing,” he says. “They are always bringing out new things to learn about, which makes it challenging. I’m really enjoying it.”

When Dean is not in the workshop, he loves fishing, camping, and donating blood. Dean went on to further his study, completing a Certificate IV in Automotive Management. He would love to have his own business one day, but for the time being he’s enjoying the ride.