ATAR not what you wanted? No worries.

Joel Nadan didn’t get the ATAR he hoped for but that didn’t stop him from working towards his dream. Here’s how he ended up chasing his calling – which in the end, wasn’t university.

If there’s one thing that Joel Nadan can attest to, it’s that there are many different pathways to reach a destination.

And sometimes along the way, you discover that the destination you were striving for is not actually the place you want to be. And that’s okay.

When Joel finished high school, he didn’t quite achieve the ATAR he hoped for.

“My ATAR was 49.5, so I didn’t even make it to 50,” he says. “I wasn’t very good at the studying aspect.”

Joel thought that mechanical engineering might be his calling.

He had always been practically minded and loved working on cool projects like building an off-road buggy with his dad.

Joel did a diploma in order to transition into a university course in mechanical engineering.

But a year in, he realised it wasn’t for him.

“It wasn’t quite the course for me because I’m more practically inclined,” says Joel.

“I couldn’t really sit at a desk for more than two hours studying. I figured I might as well do something practical.” 

Joel dropped out of university and began Chisholm’s Certificate III in Engineering – Fabrication Trade apprenticeship with Nu-Light Balustrading. He never looked back.

Going in, he already had a solid set of practical skills behind him, but through Chisholm, he was able to grow his knowledge.

“When I started the apprenticeship, I didn’t know how to TIG weld, for example, so that was a really great skill to pick up,” he says.

“We TIG weld on a daily basis in my job because we work with stainless tube and we constantly mark and measure on-site.

“I enjoy applying the things that I’ve learned at Chisholm in my workplace and learning new things.”

Joel shone during his time at Chisholm and was nominated as Apprentice of the Year at the 2023 Chisholm Education Awards.

He loves his work in commercial and domestic balustrading and finds it really rewarding.

A typical workday for Joel starts with a 6am chat with the other fabricators. They discuss what they are working on for the day, then dive into their jobs.

The team fabricates in-house, before installing the balustrading. Some jobs require welding on-site, so the work is always interesting and dynamic.

Joel feels that his greatest achievement is making his hobby into a career.

He encouraged other young people who had missed out on the ATAR they wanted not to be discouraged from further study.

“I’d say give it a go and try different things to find what inspires you,” Joel says.

“I gave university a go and it didn’t work out for me. But I found something that I’m good at now and I’m really enjoying it.”