Stratford woman Jemma Pineaha worked on international oil rigs for 12 years before a career in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) beckoned.
She has just graduated from the 14-week recruit training at RNZAF Base Woodbourne and will now head to Burnham to complete two-and-a-half years of medic training.
Jemma, 33, spent the past 12 years in the oil and gas industry in Australia and Indonesia but was looking for a career change.
"I knew that I wasn't the kind of person to work a 9-5 office job. I wanted a career that was different every day and provided the challenges I need," she says.
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"The idea of getting paid to train in a new area and further myself really appealed."
Jemma says she enjoyed the physical challenges and teamwork during her time on the recruit course.
"Mostly I have enjoyed the relationships built with my fellow recruits through shared experiences. I was always a tomboy with all male friends, so learning to trust and gaining bonds with like-minded women has been life-changing."
She says she was looking forward to the next step in her new career and had some long-term aspirations.
"After completing medic training I would really like to specialise in aeromedical evacuation and search and rescue operations. I would also really love to be involved in humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations one day."
Her advice for considering joining the New Zealand Defence Force was to research what trades were available.
"Talk to those who are already in so you can make the right decision. There are so many great careers on offer."
■ To learn more about a career as a medic or any other trade in the NZDF visit www.defencecareers.mil.nz.