Face of the future workforce

Karera Communications

By Jonathan Nally
Wednesday, 18 December, 2019

Face of the future workforce

In an industry desperately in need of new blood, Justin Lenkovic is showing the value of engaging young people through apprenticeships.

One of the highlights of ARCIA’s 2019 Gala Industry Dinner and awards night was the presentation of awards to two apprentices, Mitchell Reid and Justin Lenkovic. Mitchell wasn’t able to be present on the night but Justin was, and he won everyone’s hearts and minds with his enthusiasm and his impassioned plea for all companies in the comms industry to take on apprentices such as himself.

Justin is an apprentice with Karera, a provider and integrator of radiocommunications systems and related infrastructure. In this Q&A, we ask him about his background, his experiences as an apprentice and where he wants to go with his career.

Why did you decide to become an apprentice in the comms industry?

The decision to commence an apprenticeship within the comms industry was the result of a few factors. It began with no interest in radio but a high interest in consumer electronics and advancements in technologies. My interest in comms was then sparked by a well-executed promotion made by ARCIA at a careers expo I attended. I then went on to seek out and complete one week of work experience with Karera, after which an apprenticeship was offered.

Working in the comms industry stood out from a long list of other jobs that seemed to be boring and monotonous with little to no room for true progression or fulfilment. A lot of personal research and my week’s work experience at Karera confirmed that comms can indeed offer to a lot of variation, knowledge and both individual and whole industry progression.

Tell us about the kind of work you’re doing

I work for Karera Communications at their NSW Central Coast facility, where I work with a team of individuals with knowledge and experiences that cover the many facets of comms and beyond. Each of my co-workers has valuable knowledge that spans a wide range of areas. More importantly, everyone is friendly, approachable and contributes to creating a fun and energetic environment.

My work involves repairing, testing, programming, building and installing all kinds of communications equipment for a plethora of customers, each requiring drastically different implementations of communication networks. I also get the opportunity to work with our rigging team, which does all the ‘heavy lifting’ at Karera. I am eager to further my involvement throughout the second year of my apprenticeship.

Does your apprenticeship have an academic component?

Yes. I am currently studying a Certificate III in Electronics and Communication with TAFE NSW; I attend TAFE once per week for eight hours of theory and practical training. The typical lesson will focus on theory throughout most of the day, which consists mainly of mathematical calculations and learning what their specific application is for. The practical component of a typical lesson is used to visualise and relate theoretical concepts to real-world applications and to grasp a deeper understanding of what has been learned.

Justin Lenkovic receiving his award

Justin Lenkovic received an Apprentice Trainee Award at ARCIA's industry awards night in November 2019. Image courtesy Nigel Welch.

What sort of things have you learned so far?

At TAFE, thus far I have learnt what different components do, their application and how to identify them and their values; leaded and lead-free soldering techniques and applications; and the relationship between components and how their values and their configuration affect voltage, resistance, current, charge, capacitance, time constants and power. I have learned how these rules must be treated differently when alternating current is supplied and how voltage can be further broken down and reactance of components emerge. I’ve learned about sinusoidal waveforms, their frequencies and wavelengths and their importance in finding the resonance of circuits and in creating filters.

This is an extremely small snippet of the things I have learned, and excludes a huge portion of the skills and concepts I have learned at work.

What do you like most about your work?

The thing I like most would be the variation — the excellent blend of in-the-workshop tasks, out-in-the-field jobs and the constant shift in scale keeps thing fresh and interesting. Variation allows for a shift in mindset with varying levels of mental and physical demands while teaching you to quickly change your main focus.

Justin Lenkovic at work in the Karera workshop

Do you have a specialist field in mind for the future?

I currently have no specific communication field in mind for my future, nor am I looking for one. I simply focus on outputting a high level of effort in any given tasks and to make sure not to shy away from any new challenges or areas of interest. There are areas that I believe will not be of preference in the future, although it is still early days.

Who has helped you along the way?

It was my dad in the first place; he insisted we attend the careers night that ultimately introduced me to the comms industry, so I am thankful for that. Many of the staff at Karera have helped me massively along the way both with technical understanding and with overall personal growth. I am shown support through mistakes and am constructively criticised to help hone my skillset. My teacher at TAFE has also helped me to sustain high motivation during study — he is passionate about the industry and pushes his students so they can achieve high results.

What does it mean to be recognised by ARCIA?

It confirms that I am applying my effort successfully at work and I feel a lot of satisfaction and fulfilment to have that recognised. I am also extremely humbled that any of my co-workers would have the inclination to nominate me. I think it is also very impressive that ARCIA is able to successfully bring together such an industry and recognise individuals working within it; recognition is very important and it has only strengthened my enthusiasm and motivation to want to succeed.

Do you have any advice for others who are thinking of getting into the comms industry?

I recommend it. I have had a very positive experience so far and there is no reason for that to change in the future. There is a lot to learn, so the earlier anyone can start in the industry the better. If you are unsure whether this is the right career path for you, seek out some work experience or simply talk directly with industry participants about what’s involved. The industry is still young and has plenty of innovation left for the future.

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