This is a story in four parts, highlighting the TAF (Technical General Studies) program that ClampOn has been part of since 2002.
“I had four fantastic years at ClampOn. I think that is what got me through my studies, because I was incredibly fed up with most subjects,” says Randi Anette Rønnestad Fikkan (28). The former ClampOn TAF is now a weight engineer at Ulstein Design & Solution.
Twelve years ago, the situation was different. Randi Anette had top grades from lower secondary school, and could more or less pick and choose what to do for upper secondary studies. The problem was that she was incredibly tired of school. When she told her teachers that she was thinking about vocational studies, they thought that would be a waste of her skills, and even called her parents to try to get her to change her mind. “TAF was a compromise. I liked maths, physics, and science.”
When Randi Anette started her apprenticeship at ClampOn, she knew absolutely nothing about electronics. “The others in the production department were really nice, and understood we had to take baby steps. I had thought electronics was phones and computers, so when I saw a huge drill, I was like ‘oh, is that electronics, too?’. Eventually, I learned.”
In spite of being in a work environment with mostly grown men, Randi had a great time. “The guys were fantastic; warm and inclusive. I had been the teacher’s pet that people disliked at school, but they taught me to get back at those who said something, to stand up for myself instead of doing nothing.”
Randi Anette believes the apprenticeship at ClampOn helped her push through even the subjects she could not stand. “I had such a great time, and I knew that if I failed at those subjects, I would be out. Since I had always done well and was afraid of failing, I worked really hard. I actually saw a psychologist a couple of times about that, and I got the assignment not to study for a test, just go and fail it. I didn’t study, but I still got the second highest grade. After that, my psychologist asked: ‘What did you learn from this, did you fail?’ ‘No.’ ‘Did you die?’ ‘No.’ When I went on to study at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, I did fail exams. I don’t think I would have finished my studies without that lesson from the psychologist.”
At ClampOn, Randi Anette learned about all areas of production of ultrasonic intelligent sensors. Still, she was extremely nervous before taking the test to get her Certificate of Craftsmanship. “I thought I was going to die. Colleague Bjørn Solberg looked at me and said ‘Randi, you know how to do this, it will be just fine’. Getting my Certificate of Craftsmanship was great. It still hangs in my old bedroom at my parents’ house.”
After her apprenticeship, Randi Anette took a year off. “My mum was almost going nuts, I had finally finished upper secondary, and I didn’t want to study? That had been the goal! However, the year off was so boring that I thought was up for something theoretical, and I went on to take a Master’s Degree in Technical Cybernetics. Now, my mum is happy, and I am happy that my mum pushed me through. I would say ‘I don’t want this anymore!’ and she would say ‘Just take the exam at least!’ ‘I don’t want to hand in my Master Degree thesis! Stupid thesis!’ ‘But you wrote it already, can’t you just hand it in?’. It ended well for me. I realise I know more than I think I do.”
Randi looks back on her years at ClampOn with fondness. Now, she is a weight engineer at Ulstein Design & Solution, where she does weight calculations and estimations for shipbuilding projects, as well as follow-ups after the ships are finished. She has a job she loves, but that she might not have had if it was not for the TAF program. “TAF is a really good program. It gave me valuable experience that I have taken with me to where I am now.”
Coming up next week: Part 4 – The Current TAF
Link to Part 2 – The TAF Who Came Back to ClampOn – Gaute Langhelle
Link to Part 4 – The Current TAF – Peter Hatlebrekke Husebø