Veteran Success Story
Letter of appreciation / Veteran Story,
8 Year Veteran, Royal Australian Navy
I started my transition journey in Apr 2018 but had discharged from Navy in Jan 2019. Unsure about what to do next I threw myself back into freelance website development which is something I had been preparing for on separation since 2013. I knew that it was going to be difficult to find a job but I had no idea about how difficult and challenging my transition was about to become.
I first meet Karyn from Working Spirit back in November 2018 when Working Spirit hosted a Military to Civilian Career summit at Crown Perth. I remember being inspired and full of hope when I saw how many other current and past serving members were networking together to help make the difficult transition back into civilian life. All of a sudden it felt like there were options. By the end of the day though I felt a little disappointed as most of the transition opportunities were in the mining industry. However, I still managed to practice networking, improve my LinkedIn profile and get hear some inspirational stories from Veterans who had made the transition.
After spending the last 8 years as a Combat Systems Operator I was confident I could land a job in APS, Government or the Private Sector based on my current and previous work experience. Adding to my self-confidence, I managed to get enough website work for a few months which made me feel like I had time but suddenly the freelance work started slowing down. Worried about finances I started to scale back on expenses. I then started to miss comradery and teamwork that I experienced so much in the Navy. Working from home was beginning to get more challenging. During this time, I had submitted over 25 job applications and received an equal number of job rejections.
Frustrated and angry I decided to reconnected with Karyn from Working Spirit to see what opportunities were available. I attended a Working Spirit Military Business Breakfast and meet with a leading Perth Mining company who offered me a role as a Truck Driver. Unfortunately, this didn’t suit my desired lifestyle and even though the money was good I needed something based in Perth suited to my personality and past work experiences and interests. At the same time, I approached two recruitment agencies in Perth. This is when I found out that my Resume needed improvement. After a few tips I managed to land a job interview for a front-end web developer position in Perth. After impressing the business owner, I was given a 2-week trial to prove myself. This is when I discovered that I was lacking some skills in front end development. Stressing myself out I knew I couldn’t do what was expected of me without admitted that I needed help. Within a few days I managed to mentally talk myself out of the job with a lot of negative thinking. The owner called me 2 weeks later and said he liked my attitude but by this stage I had told myself I was a failure and I had wasted my life and I was never going to succeed.
By July I had managed to rock up another 20 job rejections and I was beginning to think I made the worst decision to leave the Navy. My financial situation was getting worse and so was my mental/physical health. I really didn’t want to leave the house and I started thinking the world was against me. It wasn’t until 2 months later after suffering depression and anxiety, lack of Vitamin D that I finally admitted to myself and others that I needed some professional help.
During the whole of 2018, Karyn touched base with me on a regular basis. Whether it was to work on the Working Spirit Website or to check up on my wellbeing. Karyn would encourage me to attend upcoming Networking Events and most importantly stay positive. We formed a strong relationship that really helped me through my transition journey. When times were tough, Karyn suggested I speak with VVCS, Critical Components and even gave me tips on how to organise my white card to access all the benefits available to Veterans.
By October I had accumulated 50 job rejections and had given up hope on finding a job. My relationship and mental health were at the lowest point it has ever been. I really started thinking that this was it….I was never going to find a job that wasn’t mining in Perth.
In September, Karyn and I caught up to discuss the Military to Civilian Networking Event I had missed in August due to being unwell from stress. Essentially giving up hope. Karyn mentioned that a large organization in Perth were looking for Veterans interested in Work Experience. I offered to send my Resume and Cover Letter and within a week I was contacted by an ex-Army Veteran who said he would forward my details onto their IT Department. A week later that IT Department contacted me a offered me an interview for a 4-week unpaid Desktop Support Internship. I studied youtube relentlessly on how to sell yourself and what questions to ask in an interview. By the middle of October, I had successfully secured the Internship which would start on November the 1st 2018.
A couple of weeks after speaking to Karyn, I was invited to speak on ABC News Perth about the challenges Veterans face when transitioning. This was a fantastic experience and it was really interesting to see other Veterans experiencing the same hardship as I was. From here I started recognizing and learning about Cognitive Behaviour. From my research I found that thoughts trigger feelings which usually results in a behaviour. I needed to start with changing my negative thinking and put my best foot forward. Realise that I hadn’t “failed”, I had “learned” and that “I wasn’t alone”.
Finally, by the end of October things were starting to turn around for me. I was feeling more positive. After my four-week unpaid Internship I was offered a 3-month paid contract with the IT company which still could lead to more opportunities. I feeling a lot better about myself and I can still freelance in my spare time whilst knowing that I can pay my bills at the end of each week.
Without Karyn’s charity organization Working Spirit, the Veteran transition process in WA would be even more difficult than it already is. I can’t thank Karyn enough for all the assistance she has given me this year. Without her help and positive reinforcement, I would have really struggled even more to make the transition back into civilian life.
Thank you for all your assistance this year Karyn. Your passion, hard work, persistence and dedication to your charity makes the transition process so much better. Keep up the great work. I wish you and Working Spirit all the best for 2019 and beyond.
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