A passion for drawing, designing and making things could have led Taryn Kearney in many directions, but thanks to a TVET course in Years 11 and 12 and work experience, all the signs pointed one way. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after school, I just knew it had to be something artistic and creative,” said Taryn. “After doing a course at school in spray painting, and work placement with a signage company, I knew that signage was what I wanted to do.”
Taryn then did everything she could to find an apprenticeship. Securing an opportunity where she’d done work experience, Khan Signs in Wagga Wagga, was the easy part. The greater challenge was the travel required to do her TAFE studies at TAFE Illawarra in Wollongong, some 417 kilometres away. “The travel was a bit scary at first but I just had to get over it and my teachers were very supportive,” said Taryn.
Clearly, the travel didn’t impact her performance. Having won a number of different awards at TAFE and her training centre, Taryn set her sights on competing at WorldSkills. After success in winning the regional competition and then placing fifth in the national competition in 2014, it was second time lucky for Taryn in the 2016 National Competition, when she won the Gold Medal.
“I couldn’t believe I’d won—it was such a relief,” said Taryn. The second time around I managed to get some of the nerves out of my system and had a greater understanding as to what to expect. WorldSkills was an incredible experience and truly life-changing in terms of the confidence, friendships and industry skills you develop.”
Taryn’s life is also changing in more practical ways, having now moved from Wagga Wagga to Wollongong, where she’s been offered a position in the company where her WorldSkills mentor works, DiSigns. With a bright future ahead of her, Taryn plans to train to teach signage at TAFE and would also like to retain some involvement with WorldSkills, perhaps as a mentor or judge.
“It would be lovely to be able to nurture up-and-coming talent and give back to the industry,” said Taryn. “There are so many amazing pathways and I want to do my best to encourage others to seize the opportunities that an apprenticeship presents.”
Book a VET Alumni member
To invite Taryn to share her success story at your event please contact VETAlumni@education.gov.au.