26 July 2023

Where are they now? Meet former first responder Mike

After a 32-year career working as a police officer in a wide variety of positions including frontline, regional, specialist and support roles, Mike was looking for a role with new challenges, so he reached out to Fortem’s Career Management team. 

“I first became aware of Fortem through an ex-colleague who was leaving the police for a local government position. Fortem had been of enormous assistance in helping him obtain the position and he strongly suggested I make contact as he knew I was also looking to move elsewhere. I contacted Anthony who, through several meetings, got a feel for where I was, what I was hoping to achieve and how Fortem could help me get there.” 

“So far Fortem has helped me identify what RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) I am eligible for and means to subsidise these RPLs. I also took part in an online interview skills workshop which I found extremely beneficial and would thoroughly recommend. I have also been using the Fortem Community Portal which has provided great advice on transitioning and tips on how to make the process smoother and less stressful.”

“After many failed attempts I secured an APS6 position with a federal government organisation. I credit my eventual success with never giving up, always seeking feedback and learning about the agency I was applying to join. It was also extremely beneficial to bounce my pre-submission applications off as many other people as would read it for that second, third and fourth opinion and input.” 

While Mike still enjoyed first responder work, at 54 years old he felt it was time for a change. “To be honest, I found (and still find) the transition extremely difficult. Having worked in such a familiar environment for so many years, beginning again in a completely different workplace was daunting. There are new colleagues, supervisors, processes, policies, expectations, databases and an entire workplace culture to learn, all seemingly at once and without the luxury of five months in an academy setting to allow for a slow adjustment. It is still early days for me, and I have been assured by everyone it gets better.” 

“I know it will too, but be prepared for some mild trauma in the process if you do make the move, the degree of upheaval commensurate with the length of time previously served in a first responder role. On a more positive note, the pressure to hit the ground running is only what I am putting on myself with my colleagues and supervisors allowing me plenty of time to pick things up. Skills we take for granted in law enforcement are recognised and even rewarded in other agencies and the opportunities are phenomenal.” 

Mike also highlighted how lost first responders may feel when taking the leap into a new career. “You may feel very alone and wonder if you have done the right thing. When I made the jump, I thought about all the good things I had left behind and how different and stressful my new role was. What I should, and will be doing, is remembering why I left police and focus on all the opportunities and exciting challenges that lie ahead. Your new employer does not want to see you fail and there is a lot of support out there to ensure you succeed as an asset to your new employer.” 

When asked about his experience using Fortem’s Career Management Program, Mike said, “I just wish I had started using their services earlier as I have no doubt they would have helped me find a new role much earlier and I have several colleagues, with Fortem’s help, well on their way to greener pastures. Fortem are still in my corner, in regular contact and offering a lot of support throughout my ongoing transition period.”