Name: Adam Renfree
WYWM position: Account Manager
ADF Background Service: Royal Australian Air Force (2006)
Rank: Maintenance Manager – CPL
What was the highlight of your military career?
“The highlight of my RAAF career was the travel I was able to do with C130s. I was able to visit the US, Europe and Asia on several occasions for both operational deployments and exercises. I was also able to deploy to the Middle East on several occasions which was challenging, but also extremely rewarding. During this time I also developed and consolidated managerial and leadership skills that I have found highly transferable in my roles post-service.”
Was your transition from the defence force difficult?
“Absolutely! My biggest obstacle when leaving the RAAF was determining the kind of career I wanted to move into. Initially I left and accepted an aviation management role that I thought would be ideal given my background, but very soon I found that despite an attractive salary – I wasn’t enjoying it. Disenchanted, I spent a significant amount of time exploring a range of industries and applied for 80+ jobs. I waited for the influx of responses…and waited… Soon I was facing a similar reality to most ADF professionals embarking on civilian career pathways – I had to accept that a master’s degree and extensive management experience simply wasn’t going to be enough to get my foot in the door.”
What key piece of advice do you have for other veterans moving from the ADF into the civilian workplace?
“Start early, be prepared and build a professional network. I’d encourage veterans who are looking at transitioning to research their desired career pathway extensively. Make sure you’re actually going to enjoy your new career and don’t be solely focused on money. Once you’ve decided on a career pathway start up-skilling to enhance your value proposition to a prospective employer (there are free options for this so be careful not to get stung). Finally, reach out to people in the industry. Most of my mates have landed jobs because of who they know rather than what they know.”
Speaking of networking and who you know – how did you land a job at WithYouWithMe?
“I worked with Tom Larter at Defence Force Recruiting (DFR) and when I saw he worked in a veteran recruitment company, I reached out for a catch up and a coffee (you’d be amazed the amount people that will meet with you if you buy them a coffee). He thought I’d be good at sales despite an aviation/ops management background and a chat over a coffee quickly turned into a job interview. Despite my initial reservations, I’ve since discovered that my personality is suited to sales and account management.”
What do you like about working for WithYouWithMe?
“I really enjoy being able to have a positive effect on the lives of veterans and working toward improving the big issues surrounding veteran employment. I also love being part of a dedicated and driven team who are like-minded and believe in what we’re doing. I am four weeks into my training program and have been learning the ropes by looking after on-boarding and customer service – I have spoken to hundreds of veterans signing up to the program during that time and hearing their stories has really re-affirmed my purpose. I love coming to work every day knowing that I am making a difference.”
In your opinion, what is the best part of the program?
“I think there’s two “best parts” of the WYWM program. The first being the guidance we provide veterans when choosing their career pathway. This guidance is based on a number of factors and is not solely base on their previous roles. Just because someone has had a career in a certain field, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re suited to that pathway. I’m a great example of that. The second is the free training. Because we’re trying to solve the big issues surrounding veteran unemployment and underemployment, we’ve created a business model that is able to provide free training to veterans which is unparalleled in the recruitment space. This is clearly beneficial to veterans as it allows them to develop the hard skills that will make them employable in their chosen industry – quickly and easily.”