Natasha has been watching the veterans stories that we have been profiling on our Facebook page. She thought it was great to see so many people excelling in their new lives and wanted to share her story.
Natasha: Hello, here’s my story! I enlisted in the Air Force in 2005 as a Crew Attendant. I had always wanted to travel and considered a career as a flight attendant when I left high school.
Unfortunately I was unable to work for a civilian airline as I was too short – but when I found out about the Air Force position – I applied, joined and didn’t look back!
I was very fortunate as I was able to post to 33 Squadron, 34 Squadron and 285 Squadron exposing me to a variety of aircraft type and roles as well as traveling to over 40 countries and meeting some incredible people!
In 2013, we had our first child and no longer wanted to continue to relocate or be away for extended periods of time so I made the decision to discharge. I had always wanted to be a Real Estate Agent and with the support of my husband and family decided to give it a crack!
After many interviews for different roles, trying to land any job in the industry, I was successful in obtaining a role as a Sales Consultant at Elders in Albany Creek, Brisbane.
It was hard slog for the first 12 months, but the skills I had obtained in the Defence force certainly helped and were surprisingly transferable to my new role.
My career has really taken off, with most of my business now coming from referrals and word of mouth. In 2016, I managed to rank in the top 100 Elders Agents in Australia which was a huge surprise!
Looking back now, 3 things I would have done differently to make the transition to civilian life smoother would be:
1. Break the process up into steps. Looking back now, within the space of a year, I had my first baby, moved house to a new area, discharged and had to look for a civilian job. It was a very stressful and anxious period in my life and in hindsight I should have focused on completing these tasks one by one.
2. Start the discharge process early, particularly if you have any outstanding medical/DVA issues. Once you’re out and don’t have access to the business directory it’s harder to get in touch with the right people. If you’ve moved out of area from a Defence base, more travel will be required to come back for clearances and discharge related appointments.
3. “I do have a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you” – see what I did there? One barrier I often came up against was that potential employers wrote me off as a “glorified waitress” as I had failed to articulately express the complex skills that our job entails in the Defence in a few short pages of my resume. In an interview, the employer would often be surprised at how much was required in our role. I went through each position I held in the military and re-wrote those skills into civilian speak. Tasking and Operations became: “Programming,” Serving VIP passengers became: “High level customer Service Skills” etc…
Best of luck to all of those who may be considering leaving the Defence Force! It is certainly a process but there are plenty of support sites and groups like Working Spirit to help make the transition as smooth as possible!
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