Training Operations Manager and former military medic, Michelle ‘Pep’ Lambert, achieved a Diploma of Business (Operations) through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
In the following story Pep discusses leaving defence with no civilian qualifications, and wondering how she would explain her military experience to prospective employers. She also talks about being totally ‘floored’ by the long list of qualifications her defence experience made her eligible for through RPL, and finding a job she loves with a Veteran-run organisation.
Listen to Pep’s story on our Podcast channel:
Pep’s Career Journey
Pep enlisted in the Australian Army right after high school.
“I won’t lie… I wasn’t great at school. I just wanted to have fun. I love meeting people and exploring new places. I was always looking for a hands-on challenge, so I joined the Army!” she shared.
Pep also knew she liked helping people, so becoming a medic was an easy and rewarding choice for her.
Pep had multiple deployments and exercises overseas as a medic in a deployable hospital and also in special operations command.
“It was just brilliant,” she said.
Time for Change
12 years on, Pep was ready for a career change that would facilitate a better work/life balance for her and her husband who was also in the ADF.
“We spent a lot of our relationship apart. I know that is a common theme for couples and families in the military. Either he or I were on call, had to deploy, go out field or go to a medical support task.
My husband had already transitioned to a corporate career, and I thought it was time for me too,” she shared.
After 12 years and multiple deployments, Pep said she had no qualifications that meant anything to anyone outside of defence.
“I absolutely kicked myself for not studying and doing degrees like all the other medics. But I was just loving the job and experience of being in the military.
When it came time to leave, I thought… I’ve done all these amazing things, but how am I going to find a job on the outside?
How would I even translate all these skills into the civilian workplace? Like shooting guns, blowing things up, and parachuting out of a plane? I just couldn’t see who on earth would hire me and had a few sleepless nights.”
Pep says she was ‘lucky’ to find a job with TacMed Australia – a veteran owned business.
“I found that a lot of the skills I had from the military did translate in the corporate workplace.”
But her transferrable skills were not yet ‘down on paper.’
“TacMed had been on me to build my LinkedIn profile, but when I got round to it, I had zero qualifications that I could include so, I felt like deleting the whole thing!” she lamented.
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
RPL turns experience into national qualifications – a language all employers understand and value.
“I went to Churchill Education because it is a very well-known name in the military community, and everyone talks about it, so it was a no brainer to go to them first. And the appraisal was free,” she said.
Turning Defence Service into National Qualifications
Pep worked with Churchill Education Skills Recognition Advisor, Amanda Smith who guided her through what information she needed to provide for an initial appraisal.
“I submitted my ADO Service Record Long, my CV and assorted military training certificates that were sitting in my trunk. I was surprised how easy the process was,” she shared.
Amanda sent Pep’s work examples to the Churchill assessment team who deemed Michelle eligible for a long list of top qualifications including Leadership and Management, Business, Project Management, Human Resource Management, Work Health and Safety, Security Risk Management and Government.
“I was absolutely floored; I would have been happy with two or three (qualifications)! But to see that long list of what my experiences actually qualify for in civie-land… it was a profound experience,” she said.
Pep said she found Amanda helpful and compassionate throughout the process, including offering payment options such as instalment payment plans.
When it came to deciding what qualification/s to enrol in, Pep talked over her career aspirations with Amanda, who helped her to decide what would best serve her career goals.
From the long list of qualifications she was eligible for, Pep decided to go forward with BSB50120 Diploma of Business (Operations).
Pep plans to come back for more as her budget allows.
“Now that I’ve seen the menu, I want dessert as well!” she laughed.
These will serve Pep well as Project Management is an in demand skillset, and Leadership and Management qualifications will support her in moving up in her career.
Pep’s advice for other Veterans
“When I left the military… I felt that gnawing worry that my experiences and skills might be deemed worthless in the civilian world.
Transitioning from military to civilian life can be nerve-wracking.
But your military service is a treasure trove of experiences and skills. These are invaluable and the civilian workspace craves them. Your ability to make split-second decisions, manage crises, and lead teams in the toughest situations is absolutely unmatched.
Consider Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) assessments by Registered Training Organisations that specialise in Military, Police and Emergency Services. It’s not about starting from scratch; it’s all about showcasing what you’ve already mastered.
Your mission doesn’t end on your discharge date. It evolves into a new chapter.”
This is great advice which is also applicable to anyone in any profession or industry.
Your skills are valuable and transferrable!
Qualifications that show what you know
Pep also had a LinkedIn review session with Churchill Education mentor Melody McNulty, and instantly experienced the value of this and qualifications that match experience:
“Mel told me people would start contacting me, offering me work.
I was like, pffft! whatever, Mel. And of course, the next day I started getting job offers!”
A huge congratulations to Pep for her achievements. We look forward to watching Pep continue to hit career goals!
If you’d like to find out what qualifications your experience can be turned into, get in touch!