Career Bites

Our Careers department runs weekly talks at Westlake Girls from people in a wide range of professions. These relaxed and informative talks offer students the chance to hear about many different jobs from the people who do these jobs daily. The students have a fantastic opportunity to ask questions of real-life workers and to gather information about course choices and study paths in case they are interested in the profession as a career for themselves.

Special note

Any students who are interested in journalism and would like to be involved in reporting on Career Bites, please contact Ms. Winstone – [email protected] or visit her in the careers office next to P6.


This week, our visitors were paramedics.  Thank you to Y12 students Sally Lee, 12HCO and Grace Lee, 12HCN who have written the following article about the session.

Speakers’ names and roles:

Perry and Ambly are NZ  Defence Force (Navy) Paramedics. Alice is a Westpac Helicopter Paramedic and Emily is a St. John’s ambulance Paramedic.

How did you choose this career?

Alice, the Westpac Helicopter Paramedic, did a classical musical degree in university! She decided to try something different after she graduated from her music degree. When Alice decided to try Paramedicine as a career, she found it nice doing something completely different to what she has done her whole life. This led her to stick with Paramedicine and eventually become a Westpac Helicopter Paramedic. Perry and Ambly are NZ Defence Force (Navy) Paramedics. Alice is a Westpac Helicopter Paramedic and Emily is a St. John’s ambulance Paramedic.

What kind of education and/or training did your career require?

Perry and Ambly studied the Bachelor of Health Science in Paramedicine through AUT. This was their Navy trade, so they did not have to pay fees as training was paid by the Navy! Ambly workedin Christchurch, Canterbury and Taupo, before transferring to Devonport, where she is now based with the NZ Navy.

Alice has worked as a paramedic for over 10 years, she did her training through the AUT Bachelor of Health Science (Paramedicine).

The University of Otago and the University of Auckland are the only two institutions to offer Paramedicine.

What skills are required in your daily work?

  • Basic first aid and medication
  • (Sometimes) opening up someone’s chest
  • You need to be able to adapt to chaos, be positive, be physically fit (have a fitness test every 6 months.

Describe a typical day at work.

  • Day-to-day different roles
  • Look after wounds (St.Johns)
  • Lots of shift work
  • Working 4-5 days and 4 days off (may vary)
  • Repetitive
  • Working with patients can lead to working with ‘gruesome things’
  • Work with nurses and doctors at hospital
  • Always on the road – not in the office often.

Do you mostly work alone or with others?

Paramedicine is a job that involves many people and having to work with others. Therefore, it is not independent work.

What do you wish you would have known about your job before starting?

You don’t have to be good at all the sciences to gain entry into Paramedicine.

What do you love the most about your job?

Alice and Emily like their job because they mostly work outside and always on the road. They also said that their job involves helping the community like when Cyclone Gabriel happened, they had to support patients involved in the disaster which made them feel very proud of what they do and love being paramedics so much.

What do you dislike most about your job?

There are very few lows.  A low is when confronting challenging cases (e.g. someone dying, or flight crashes). However, New Zealand has a great support system for these cases so they have a lot of support when unfortunate cases happen to them.

What is your pay?

  • Defence force starts from approximately $45K, from day one as a brand new trainee high school leaver. You won’t have a student loan or debt! Pay increases as you become qualified and have more experience.
  • When you become a Paramedic, you do not have to pay doctors, dentists and gym membership fees.
  • Alice, the Westpac Helicopter Paramedic, is paid approximately $120K. It has increased as she has gained more skills and experience.
  • With St. Johns Ambulance, the pay starts from $54K to $70K, but experienced Paramedics earn approximately $100K.