Defence University Sponsorship: Meet the Students

September 11, 2019 posted by

My name’s Ryan [? Whitby. ?] I study at James Cook University
Townsville campus. I receive the Defence University
Sponsorship. When I graduate engineering,
I’m going to be a weapons electrical aircraft officer. My name’s Lisa [? Holiday, ?] and I’m a third year dental
science student at the University of Western
Australia. I’m [? Bella, ?] and I’m a first
year medical student at the University of Queensland
in Brisbane. I’m a student of the Graduate
Medical Programme, which means I’m sponsored by Defence to do
my degree and after I finish, I’m going to be a medical
officer in the Australian Army. Even up until the point when I
got my Defence scholarship, I was still working very, very
hard to get through. Defence pays me as would any
other employer, and that salary is primarily to
go to University. It’s such a relief knowing
that all I need to do is focus on Uni. When I go home at night, I can
actually do my study and relax and breathe and not have to
worry about working and can I fit this in, can
I fit that in? I discovered the DUS through
Defence recruiting. At the time, I was applying for
a gap year programme and when I informed my recruitment
officer that I wanted to do dentistry, he provided me with
information about this scheme. And I guess things just
went from there. When I moved to Townsville, I
lived on my savings for a few months while I sorted
out a job. I was going to Uni three
a half days a week. The days that I had
off, I worked. So for the first few months,
I, like most people at Uni, worked hard to get by. I wanted to be independent but
that meant I had to be working at the same time as doing Uni,
and Uni hours aren’t that great to try and work
a job around. I went onto my University site
for scholarships and sponsorships and things like
that and I saw the Defence Force one, but I didn’t realise
I could do that at the same time as studying
medicine. So I just went onto Defence
Recruiting Website, found out a little bit more information,
and I also spoke to some other med students who I was tutoring
with at the time. Then I called up and got
everything rolling. The application process for
the Defence University Sponsorship is pretty much the
same as for all the other officer positions in that you
undergo your YOU day, assessment day, and then Officer
Selection Board. From my point of view, I
looked into a number of different large businesses and
different employers for electrical engineering. For the most part, for a
person straight out of university, you’ve got two or
three different options. One is to head out to the
mines and work for a few years, and your other option
was to work for one of your specialist electronics companies
or electrical manufacturers. I’m just a regular student
pushing my way through engineering, and Defence is the
one thing I wanted to do with my degree. The benefits that come with
the Defence University Sponsorship are almost
too good to be true. Outside of the salary, you
receive the rest of your HELP debt paid for. You receive most of your
textbooks that you need for Uni. One advantage of living in a
rural area and not going down to Brisbane to study university
is that I also get a zone allowance. I get rent assistance, I’ve
got full medical coverage, full dental coverage. I’ve got the sponsorship
and uniform allowance. With the Defence sponsorship,
you have support along the way, and also job security when
you finish, whereas a lot of the other scholarships it’s
just a bulk payment of money. There you go. Do what you want with it. You don’t get all the support
which I feel like you get with the Defence sponsorship. So it is a commitment, but
it’s definitely worth the commitment. When I finish university,
I’ve got a guaranteed job for three years. The brilliant thing about
Defence is if I want that job, it’s always going to
be there for me. I’ve lived in Brisbane
my whole life. I want to go to Uni here,
I want to stay here, my family’s here. And Defence will pay me to go
to the Uni of my choice. Upon graduation, it makes me a
bit more secure in my mind knowing that I’ve got a job
sitting there waiting for me and it allows me to
plan around that. What excites me about a career
in the Defence force, aside from being in an aviation
environment, is I’m going to be meeting new people, I’m
going to be living in different parts of Australia,
and I’m going to be experiencing things that I
wouldn’t otherwise get to experience as a civilian
dentist. To be deployed, to go into
situations that are out of my comfort zone and experience new
things and just learning on the job, I think, is going
to be really exciting. My job that I’ve applied for
and been accepted into is weapons electrical
aircraft officer. So what that will means is that
when I’ve finished, I’ll work on the weapon systems and
from an electrical point of view, all the aircraft that the
Navy has in active duty at the moment. So that will mean the guidance
systems or the interactive systems, all those kinds of
things on the new helicopters that are coming out, on the
existing fleet, as well as anything that may be happening
in the future. There are options for me to
travel if I’d like to. With the new LHDs, there are
currently capacity for two weapons electrical engineers
to be stationed on each of the two ships. From my understanding, the
differences between being a dentist in the civilian world
and a dentist in the Defence Force is you get to totally
focus on patient care and deliver the best treatment for
your patient without having to worry about the financial
concerns of the patient and dealing with the marketing and
business side of things. When you tell people that you
want to be a doctor, a lot of the time they say, oh, you’re
going to earn so much money. But if you’re in it just for
that, you’re not going to have a rewarding career. We want to do it to
help people, to give back to our community. And even just being in
Defence is giving back to your community. And being a doctor in Defence,
I get the double whammy. When I was in Year Ten, I
started to become really interested in Defence,
particularly in the Army. My father was in the Navy, so it
was interesting that I went straight towards the Army, but
I just feel for me, the Army suits me better. I like the ground,
not particularly too keen on the ocean. And since Year Ten, just been
interested in the Defence Force, interested in the Army,
but never really thought that I would be able to– I mean, maybe I would have
been in the Reserves and stuff, but I never thought I
could have a full time career in the Army while
doing medicine. I’m there to help the people who
are trying to protect our country and I am
helping people. Being a doctor is about helping
people, and that’s what I’m doing. The main reason I chose Air
Force is because I have really strong interest in aircraft. I initially wanted to be a pilot
when I was a bit younger before I decided on doing
dentistry, so I guess that was the only option for
me in that sense. With the Navy, you’ve got
options as an electrical engineer, as any engineer,
you’ve got options that range from spending a few months on a
sub to heading out to sea on a ship for a few months to doing
a similar jobs to what I’m doing, which is a Monday to
Friday, five day a week job at the base down in
New South Wales. So depending on what you’re
looking for, you can pretty well find it. They sponsor you for your whole
degree, and you owe them back the years that they
sponsor you plus one. So my degree’s four years,
so I owe them five years. But I also know someone else
who just started this sponsorship this year, and
they’re a third year. So that means they’ll be
sponsored for two years, and they owe them three years. Most likely, one of my first
postings in the Air Force will be to one of the larger bases,
namely Richmond, Williamtown, or Amberley, purely because
they’ve got a larger dental facility and they’ve got more
experienced dental officers to help me through as a graduated
dentist as I proceed through my competency levels and
gain more experience. As with all officer positions
across the three forces, there’s always an option for you
to be thrown into any job. So while I could enter into
system programming jobs, I could do logistical jobs, things
like that that don’t need specialist techniques or
specialist skills, I will, for the most part, be spending most
of my time down in New South Wales at HMAS Albatross,
as that’s where the Navy’s three aircraft squadrons
are stationed. As part of the sponsorship,
I had to do a one week familiarisation course, and
that was a really good opportunity because I got to
meet other undergrads across Australia in different
disciplines. And then for each year of
sponsorship, I have to do a one week motivational attachment
in my area. So for me, last year, I did one
week up at the Air Force Base at Pearce just at the
dental facility, watching what the dentist does there. So that was a really good
opportunity, especially for me in second year going into third
year treating patients, I got to see how he interacts
with the patients and the type of things that I’ll be doing
in my future career as a dental officer in
the Air Force. I enlisted a few months ago. Since I enlisted,
I haven’t done a day of Defence training. Defence pays me to go to Uni,
and they want me to go to Uni. So after I graduate, I go down
to Royal Military College and do a short stint down there for
my basic officer training. I think a lot of people think
it’s really scary fitness requirements to get into the
Army, but it’s really not. If you’re moderately fit,
you’re going to get in. Obviously, if you’ve been in
there for a long time, they want to make you fitter, but
don’t think that because you’re not an elite athlete now
or some hardcore Army guy, you’re not going to get
in, because that’s definitely not the case. Once you get into it, once you
get into the habit, which is the most important thing about
any physical exercise, you feel better. You finish your weights, you
finish your run, and you feel like you’ve accomplished
something. You feel stronger, you feel
cleaner, you feel fresher. My hobbies would mainly
be exercise. I guess that’s what I do in my
spare time mainly because I need to keep my fitness
up and I enjoy it. So mainly bike riding around
Perth, and there’s a thing called Jacob’s Ladder in King’s
Park, so I really enjoy running up and down that,
surprisingly. And I’m also a little bit
competitive, so at Officer Selection Board when we had to
do our push-ups, I was the only girl there and I
wanted to beat all the boys, so I did. When you finish, you need to
find an intern position, and obviously, then you’re committed
to that hospital for a certain amount of time. But the problem is in the last
few years, there’s not a guaranteed intern position
for every med graduate. But if you are going through a
Defence Sponsorship, you’ve got a guaranteed position. You don’t have to worry
about that. That’s not a stress in the
back of your mind. From what I’ve heard speaking to
serving members, also other doctors who haven’t had any
military background, time served in the military is
actually seen as really, really desirable. If you want then get out of
the Army, go into civilian medicine, having
that definitely hasn’t set you back. Having a few years in the Army,
if anything, it’s given you an advantage. My grandparents are actually
really stoked that I’m doing that. I think they think it will be
quite character building for me and really good
life experience. Nadine’s happy with the fact
that I don’t have to work now. When we started out, like I said
to you, I was out of the house seven days a week and
it put a strain on our relationship. My mom was a little bit nervous
because her baby’s going away. I think she’s going
into it with a different sort of attitude. She wants to help. She might be a person who
makes a big difference. She was very stressed about the
more time spent working, the less time she could spend
studying, and that’s all she really wanted to do. So now with a sponsorship, she
doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. She can focus completely
on her studies. My friends are really intrigued
by the fact that I’m receiving this sponsorship. I think the thing that probably
gets them most intrigued is the sponsorship
itself in terms of the salary I receive. In terms of actually serving
in uniform upon graduation, I’m not too sure how convinced
they are, but I think it’s really dependent on the
individual who’s doing it. So the recruiting process for
an undergraduate entry is split into three parts. The first part is a generic
YOU session, which all recruits go through, which
determines your aptitude and the positions that you can apply
for in Defence, or that you’re deemed suitable for. Like I said, it was very
daunting and it was very frightening going in. I’d never had anything to do
with the Air Force, with the Navy or with the Army
specifically, it was something that was a whole lot less
exciting and less daunting than you’d have thought. The people that I met in the
YOU session and in the subsequent stages of testing
were some of the nicest people that I’ve encountered, both
in Defence and [? AR. ?] and they tried to make the
process as comfortable and easy for you as possible. I don’t think enough people know
about the sponsorship or know the right things
about it. They have this idea that
you have to work for the Army for 30 years. But now that I’m actually
telling people what it’s really about and all the
benefits you get, all the opportunities you get, they’re
a bit more open to the idea. And also, people didn’t realise
that you could become sponsored later in
your degree. Doesn’t have to be first year. If you get to third year and
you realise that Defence is really what you’re interested
in, you can apply for sponsorship then.

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