The road to a carpentry career was not a straight one for Jesse Bridgement.
It took him from Forster to Manly, and involved camouflage, heavy vehicles, and a far Northern Queensland detour along the way.
The 22 year-old first year apprentice served three years in the Australian Army before moving across to the construction industry.
“After school, I didn’t know if I wanted to go to uni yet, and a trade didn’t come up in Forster, where I’m from. I didn’t want to stay at home, so I joined up,” Jesse says. “I did three years in Townsville, most of that time in Transport, moving troops and goods around. It was a good experience, while I was there, and I learned a lot,” he says.
While in the Army, Jesse was exposed to some construction and carpentry, and his interest was piqued. A family contact also helped out, he says.
“My dad is mates with Mick from Virtue Projects, so that’s how I got onto the boys. It all went from there,” Jesse says. “I had a mate living down here, and we moved in together. It’s all good so far.”
Like many in the industry, Jesse gets the most satisfaction from seeing a project completed. “I love it. At the end [of a job], when you look back and think, ‘Sweet. I played a part in that…’ it’s just good to see.”
Jesse has also been enjoying city life, albeit the slightly more laid-back North Shore version. “I’m in Manly, and I like the North Side. Being from Forster, which is a smaller town… you have the beaches, and it’s not as busy, not as ‘city-like.’ I love it over there.”
Jesse has also been enjoying the laid back and supportive vibe of the Virtue Projects team. “Yeah, they are a good bunch of lads,” he says. “They’re all good at what they do, and we all get on well.”
The example set by Mick and Dave has also inspired some long term motivation on Jesse’s part.
“It’ll be a few years until I finish my apprenticeship, so I’ll see where I go from there. I’m still keen on progressing further from there. Down the track, my own business would be good,” he says. “I really look up to the boys. They’re your bosses at work, and on the weekend they’re your mates, and they look after you.”
“You do the right thing by them, and they’ll look after you.”