I thought my English would be fine in Australia, but as soon as we arrived, I had to face a new reality. My husband’s friend came to pick us from the airport, and although I was trying my best to understand what he was saying and the jokes he was making, I couldn’t understand his Australian accent.
The next day, we went to buy a SIM card, and I again couldn’t fully understand one of the salesman’s questions. I just went totally blank, and my husband had to respond on my behalf. Next, we went to Woolworths and the same thing happened at the checkout counter. At that moment, I felt very discouraged.
Later, I told my husband I wanted him to always talk on my behalf, as I wasn’t feeling comfortable anymore. Although he tried to build up my confidence, after that I was constantly feeling nervous and doubting myself.
Before I left India, my manager had set up a job interview for me with one of the managers of a multinational engineering company, Atlas Copco Australia. Because of his contact and my experience as a Service Planner in the engineering industry, I was very confident that I was going to get that job, but once they started interviewing me, there were again instances where I couldn’t catch the accent. I did actually get called in for the second round of interviews, but ultimately, I was not selected. I was really shattered by that, and started to experience imposter syndrome.
After that, I started applying for other jobs, and finally a recruiter found me a job in my field. However, as a lot of it would involve talking on the phone, I was too nervous about my listening skills to accept it.
Then, one day, I was looking at my visa paper, and I noticed that I was eligible for free classes with the Adult Migrant English Program. So the next day I booked an appointment with Navitas in the city, and I started studying the day after that! I was very happy there. It was the very first time in my life I was able to meet people from different parts of the world – from Bangladesh, to Spain, to Colombia – and we were all in the same boat, there to improve our English.
After two months, I was accepted into another course called Workplace Communication for Professionals. We learned so much in that course, about how to write resumes, cover letters, and emails, and about what to wear to an interview, and how we should behave at work.
As my teacher noticed from my resume that I had a lot of experience in customer service, at the end of the course, he arranged an interview for me to get some work experience with Settlement Services International. I volunteered there for 4 weeks, and afterwards the manager offered me a full-time job! It was only a junior position, a team assistant, but that was a very happy moment for me.
After 6 months, I was promoted to employment consultant, and then, after a year, to site manager. Becoming a manager was a game changer for me. Our clients were sometimes frustrated, and so I had to step in and protect the staff, which made me a much stronger person.
After 2 years, I took on a new role with Uniting, working with a team of around 40 staff as a Home Support Officer. In this role, am responsible for the roster and for making sure the site runs smoothly. It was a very challenging role for me, especially at the beginning, but I worked long hours to ensure that everything went well.
Eight months ago, my daughter was born, so I’m currently on maternity leave. Having a break has really given me a different perspective. I realised I wanted to do something to help others, so I have now started a new passion, posting on Linkedin about my experiences and learnings in Australia.
I really want to thank Navitas and my excellent teachers, not just for helping me find my first job, but also for giving me all the knowledge I needed about the workplace, which I still use to this day.
It changed my life.
This story was brought to you by Navitas Skilled Futures. Since 1998, NSF has supported over 300,000 people to live their best lives in Australia, through the delivery of the Adult Migrant English Program. To find out more, enrol, or recommend to a friend, visit: https://bit.ly/3hA0MlF
Photographer: Anne Casey www.facebook.com/silverpepperphotography
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