Defence family member Katie reached out to Soldier On while looking for a new role due to the COVID pandemic. Via Soldier On’s Pathways Program, Katie applied for an internship at the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. Being offered a place on the DISER internship scheme set in motion, Katie’s new career pathway. With support from Soldier On’s Pathways Program team and the team at DISER, Katie is enjoying a successful placement at the Department where she is now working as a Policy Officer.
9 months on, Katie talked with Soldier On about her experiences as a member of a Defence family, the Soldier On Pathways Program and her internship at DISER.
What has been your study and career path?
Previously, I had studied Creative Arts (Photography & Make Up) and worked towards a career in administration/HR. I have a varied work history – Retail while studying, running my own business for 10 years in the Creative industry and Recruitment.
What’s your connection with Defence?
I grew up as the child of a Navy man. While we did travel in my early years, I found the interruptions came later – as we all transitioned away from the Defence “Family” lifestyle, and became a “normal” family like my school friends had.
I have had difficulty with separation anxiety, PTSD and Depression since the age of 12 but wasn’t diagnosed until my late teens, which stems from my experiences as the child of a serving member. That definitely contributed to an inability to settle into any one role or study path until I learnt coping methods and different approaches.
These days, there are many programs (Soldier On and Kookaburra Kids to name two) to support not only current and ex-serving ADF members, and their families, but when I was younger, these services didn’t exist. I am so incredibly grateful that I can access support like this as an adult.
How did you first hear of Soldier On and the Pathways Program?
I connected with a Pathways Officer while I was on the “other side of the fence”, working in recruitment. She was looking to work with me to place some participants in suitable roles, and so when I needed to find work post COVID-19 job loss, I reached out and it was suggested I would be an ideal candidate for the program. I felt welcomed and supported by everyone I met and interacted with, and from the Soldier On side of things, I have been very happy with the assistance and support provided.
How has the Pathways Program and your internship at DISER helped you on your career path?
Over the past 9 months, I have participated in social workshops, Personal Development discussions and made some solid connections with people across a variety of industries, helping me build my self-confidence while also exploring new opportunities.
Currently I work as a Policy Officer, where I use many of the skills I’ve gained over the years in completely different ways than I had ever thought I would, and I’m enjoying being a valued and appreciated member of my team. I’ve also been lucky to be placed in the Division of Dr Chris Locke, the Department’s Pathways Program champion, and he is quite encouraging of my being here and of my intention to build a career within the Department.
What would you say to encourage others who are considering applying for an internship at the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources?
I would definitely recommend the internship program – my time at DISER has taught me so many things about myself, helped to strengthen my self-confidence, and is teaching me new skills as well as building on existing ones. It has been a great chance to “try” a career in the APS, while at the same time learn about the different roles/career paths available to anyone employed here, and opportunities to network and be engaged in a meaningful and valued role.
What would you say to others considering contacting Soldier On and the Pathways Program?
I would absolutely recommend the Pathways Program, and would suggest to anyone considering it, not to hesitate. The support, understanding and “we’ll find a way” attitude is exactly what’s needed when you’re feeling uncertain about next steps. I cannot express my thanks enough for being considered for this program.
Soldier On Pathways Program support available
If you’re current serving or ex-serving ADF, or a family member of someone who is, Soldier On’s Pathways Program team can provide you with free employment and education support and education and employment opportunities with veteran-supportive organisations. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more about the next intake for DISER’s internship scheme
The Soldier on Pathways Team and the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources are very excited to be holding a virtual Internship Information Session. This information session will address what the internship opportunity is, the types of placements available, what it is like to be an intern and what happens at the completion of the internship.