Troy Van Dongen joined the Australian Navy in 1992 as a communications specialist. He spent three years as a Submariner before joining the surface fleet where he conducted maintenance and repair of IT and electronic communications equipment. In 2016, after a career spent at sea, with stints in both the boarding party and standing sea fire party, Troy discharged.

“Everyone has a time to move on and after almost 25 years this was mine. I wanted to spend more time with my family and begin a new career, something different, while I was still young.”

Keen to work for an organisation with links to Defence, Troy spent eighteen months trying to find a role that suited his skills and expertise.

“Job hunting is always stressful, and especially after such a long time in the military. Self-promotion and knowing what I was worth with respect to qualifications and skills and where to pitch myself in the job market was the most difficult.”

After a period of trawling the job market, Troy shifted focus and began networking. Through a recruitment agency he heard about a job opportunity at Hensoldt Australia and put in an application. He was successful, and soon began work as a remote site radar technician on a new radar build.

Today, Troy is the work health safety manager and chief pilot of drone flight operations, working alongside ex-Defence members who know what it’s like to transition.

“The comradery has been great. We speak the same language, we have the same work ethic and whenever you need help people step in to give you a hand. I don't have a radar background, but everyone has been very supportive and helped me upskill in those areas.”

Transition tips

For Troy, getting a job at a Defence organisation was “like coming home, just without the uniform,” and while he uses his military expertise on a daily basis, he believes veterans have the skills to succeed in any job they put their mind to.

“Veterans have a very broad base of skills and experience coming from the military. The key is just making sure you can put them down on paper and explain what they are to civilian employers, as often they just don't understand what your experience is.

“Having a generic resume and cover letter prepared with the assistance of Defence helps a lot but tailoring that to each application is important and will take some effort and practice. The Recognition of Prior Learning process is also something to get your head around, if you are going to undertake additional education or training shop around with different providers as not only does pricing vary, but also the qualifications they offer.”

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