Pilot Officer Ben Riedstra

Meet NZDF at the virtual 2020 CDES STEM Careers Expo!

Pilot Officer Ben Riedstra

  • Communications and Information Systems Officer - RNZAF
  • Bachelor of Science - Computer Science

Did your career plans change as you studied?

I actually joined the RNZAF as a pilot in 2016, however due to health complications, I rebranched into Communications and Information Systems (CIS). I started studying at UoA in 2018 which actually guided my decision of where I wanted to rebranch within the Air Force. First year computer science really opened my eyes to modern computing and made me think how that could be implemented in a defence context which made me then choose CIS.

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years’ time?

Luckily, the RNZAF gives a clear pathway as to where my career may possibly progress. In 5 or so years, I hope to have multiple deployments under my belt and to be leading a highly qualified team to achieve outputs that benefit New Zealand.

How valuable was your work experience (including internships) for you as a student? How did this help you fine-tune where you wanted to head?

While studying, I’ve had the opportunity to work with my future workplaces and have even been to the UK for training which reaffirms where I want to be heading once I finish my degree. The ability to see where my degree would take me is extremely valuable to keep me on track for where I want to be in the future.

What is your key piece of advice for current students, hoping to secure intern or graduate opportunities?

Being well rounded in not only your studies, but leadership and working in a team is invaluable when looking at a career in the Air Force. While it may be intimidating to join the military, I highly recommend it for those looking for a dynamic workplace that lets you become a key member of a team.