Kaleidoscope Mentee Success Story – Mashaal Mahmood

We spoke with Mashaal Mahmood (LinkedIn), a mentee from Cycle 2 2020 Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program and asked her to share her experiences, benefits and successes from participating in the program.

1. Tell us a little about your home/country

I am originally from the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad. It is one of the most modern cities in the country and definitely the safest.

2. Tell us a little about your own employment/professional history?

My background is in Journalism. I worked as an intern in one of the major commercial news channels in Pakistan, before moving to Australia in 2011, and on and off after that while completing my Bachelor in Perth from The University of Western Australia in Communications and Media. Most of my experience in Journalism in Pakistan was in the area of Politics and Human Rights, which of course is rather understandable considering the human rights violations in the country on a daily basis and political unrest. I used to interview people directly affected by the situations and present their stories in my first language, Urdu.

3. What challenges have you faced in your job search journey in WA?

I have a rather long list for that! Starting with the fact that I had to give up my career in Journalism in Australia due to multiple barriers. Even though I did have quite a distinguished overseas background in Journalism, along with a qualification in that area from a prestigious university from Western Australia, it was almost impossible to work as a journalist in the country. It was mainly due to lack of ‘Australian experience’ in the work field and the lack of understanding of how the job market works here. I kept on applying for jobs online to no benefit. Most of the time, it felt like no one was even looking at my application. My ultimate frustration caused me to give up on my dream of being a journalist and I requalified as a Media teacher, and started teaching in Australian high schools.

4.  What skills did you gain from participating in the program and how did this help you in your job search?

For me personally, Kaleidoscope’s online workshops act like a bridge between getting the qualification and finally joining the workforce. I wish I had this ‘bridge’ when I graduated as a Journalist, as I wouldn’t have struggled during my job-hunt process and ultimately changed careers due to lack of positive outcome. The online workshops specifically gave me an in-depth knowledge about the job-search process in Australia. Even after being in the country for almost ten years, I was lacking this vital information. I learnt some really basic things like making my job search efficient by learning how to use online professional mediums like LinkedIn and what words to use in my resume to make it stand out more in front of the recruiters who have uncountable resumes to look at. These strategies might sound basic and simple but play a vital role in making one stand out in the crowd of job applicants. In fact, I think the workshops should be a mandatory process for anyone who has finished their qualification and is looking to find employment in the area of their expertise or for those who have just arrived in the country and want to start their professional journey in Australia. Most of the time, people aren’t struggling to find a job because of lack of qualifications or experience, but due to lack understanding of the path that leads to one’s dream job!

5.  What are the three key benefits you gained by joining the program?

1. Cultural understanding of people from different backgrounds

2. Confidence of taking risks

3. Sense of belonging

6. What was the best part of being a mentee?

I was matched up with Sue Myc, the chairperson and radio announcer at 89.7FM Radio. This match turned into one of the finest things that happened in my life since moving to Australia in 2011. I moved here to become a journalist but was forced to give up that dream due to lack of ‘Australian experience’ in that area. My mentor, Sue allowed me to run a 15 minute segment of her morning show once a week, where I would share information regarding a topic of my choice. This didn’t only allow me to learn how to conduct my communication on live radio, but also helped me polish my research skills; a very vital skill for any journalist, as I had to ensure that my information was correct and was presented without any bias. I also learnt how to use the radio equipment, which was definitely the hardest part but definitely the most useful one.

7.  In your opinion, did your understanding of Australian workplace culture and job application processes improve through participation in the program?

Some of the workshops were specifically dedicated to the Australian workplace culture and job application processes. A lot of unspoken facts were explained in these ones, such as not calling ‘sir’ or ‘madam’ to people at work and using their first names. I am sure that it is something that requires a lot of getting used to for people from many countries. In terms of job application process, we even did practise interview questions, and got little tips on how to conduct ourselves around our employers. As I said, a lot of unspoken rules that exist but a lot of migrants are unaware of.

8. Did participating in the program expand your professional community networks or knowledge in a particular area?

Working at 89.7FM Radio, as a part of the Kaleidoscope programme, was to help me get into the field of Journalism, but I have got so much more than that since I have been a part of it. Firstly, the opportunity to make friendly connections with people who had spent the majority of their lives here in Australia allowed me to understand the core of Australian culture. One of tendencies amongst migrants is to only mingle with people from their own backgrounds; regardless of how long they have been in their adopted home, mainly because it is their comfort zone. However, this pattern restricts them from sometimes assimilating in the new country. For me, 89.7FM Radio turned out to be a platform where I made deep connections with people who truly understood Australia and Australian values, and to my amusement, for the first time in a decade since I left my home country, I feel like having a sense of belonging, through the people who come from completely different background from my own.

9. Have you gained employment in your field? Can you tell us a little bit about your new role/job?

All thanks to the Kaleidoscope Program, I have my own radio show now on 89.7FM Radio. It is called The Brown Culture, and aims to share the culture/values/history of the Indian subcontinent or South Asia or countries like (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka) with people from different backgrounds in Australia, along with playing Bollywood and Lollywood music. Those of you who don’t know, Bollywood is India’s film and music industry while Lollywood is Pakistan’s film and music industry. The staff at 89.7FM radio was very generous to let me create something that I am truly passionate about. People from the Indian subcontinent represent a high number of Australian population, but not a lot of people truly understand their culture. The whole point of the show is to educate people about South Asian/Brown culture. Being a migrant, I understand that when people truly understand a culture on a human level is when the barrier between ‘them’ and ‘us’ is diminished. I aim to let people feel that we are all one, regardless of our race, religion, ethnicity , and no one really is ‘others’.

10. What advice would you give to a new mentee starting the mentoring program?

Show up for your online classes prepared and make the most of every single opportunity of learning something new. Being a part of this programme is a privilege. Had I received it 10 years ago, I wouldn’t be just starting to practise journalism in Australia.

11.  What would you rate the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program out of 5 (5 being the highest)?

5 stars!

Interested in joining the next cycle as a mentee?

Applications for KMP 2021 Cycle 2 will open on 1 May 2021. To register your interest in becoming a mentee in our next cycle please complete an expression of interest form via the link below.

EOI for KMP Mentee

The Kaleidoscope Initiative has been supported by the State Government through the Office of Multicultural Interests. The Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program is being implemented under a partnership between the City of Stirling, the City of Canning and Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services and the Western Australian Government. The Program has been created in consultation with the Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC). Their successful TRIEC Mentoring Partnership program is the model for mentoring programs across Canada and internationally.

KMP Cycle 1 2021 mentees and mentors

COVID-19 update notice

Due to the WA State Government’s mandatory lockdown in response to the COVID-19 incident, we have decided to convert the upcoming orientation session on Thursday 4 February 2021 to an online zoom event. 

 

Mentees and mentors, please check your email inbox for more information. 

If you have already registered for the event through Eventbrite you are automatically registered for the zoom event (but you will need to login to Eventbrite to access the event).  
 
If you have not registered yet
 please register here by 5.00pm Wednesday.

 

This will be the first opportunity for mentors and mentees to meet and have their first mentoring session online and is critical to the success of the program. 
 
If you are unable to attend please email your  Mentoring Coach, Cema Santos ASAP.
 
We look forward to seeing you online on Thursday. Only two days to go! 

For more information on all of the mentoring activities please view the KMP 2021 C1 calendar or visit the KMP Cycle 1 page.

Rebecca-Arunima mentoring success story

(L to R) Rebecca Hall, KMP Mentor, Patrick Hall, City of Canning Mayor and Arunima Nair Jairath, KMP Mentee

Rebecca HallCity of Canning Leader Community Connections & Learning recently came on board as a mentor in the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program (KMP). Rebecca volunteered her time and expertise to mentor Arunima Nair Jairath, who was looking to expand her knowledge and understanding of the workspace, as well as navigate the rigours of job seeking in Australia. 

Arunima’s background includes being a social worker who has worked in the areas of family services, youth accommodation, youth-at-risk and International students. Her skills include counselling, advocacy, policy development and implementation and research. 

 

Here, Rebecca shares with us on her experience being a KMP mentor.

Why did you sign up to be a mentor?
I decided to become a mentor because I really believe in the Kaleidoscope Initiative and Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program. I wanted to ensure I had ‘skin in the game’ and could advocate better for the project by having the first-hand experience at mentoring 

What was the best part of being a mentor?
The best part about being a mentor was getting to know my mentee, which ultimately led to me meeting a new friend! Arunima taught me as much as I taught her, and I feel gave me a fresh perspective on the Social Services sector outside of Australia, which I found really enriching. 

What did you personally take away by being a mentor on the program? 
I took away a deeper understanding of the sacrifice and passion of immigrants professional and their contribution to Australia – as well as understanding a real sense of the positivity that comes with that. It expanded my perspective on immigration and gave me the ability to counter and better respond to some ignorance and negativity I encounter personally and professionally about immigration. 

Did you learn any new skills? 
I learned some new skills around cross-cultural communication with particular reference to explaining practical tasks associated with employment. This has given me new skills and knowledge to help lead my team and train new staff at the City of Canning 

What was challenging?
I felt most challenged by imposter-syndrome. I internally battled with my own confidence in my mentoring role – and at the same time – wanted to give Arunima the best experience which could lead to positive outcomes for her.   

Would you recommend the program to the other professionals looking to be a mentor?
I would very much recommend this program to potential mentors. Professionally, you get the opportunity to really test your coaching and motivating skills and help people draw out strengths and experience they didn’t identify themselves which is really important in leadership. After completion of the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program, the City of Canning was also able to take on Arunima as a volunteer in my teamHer skill set is exactly what we were looking for. I was confident that Arunima will be snapped up for a job. Personally, I gained a new friend and a sense that I have contributed positively to something important. That is the role modelling I want to show my children. 

 

We also talked to Arunima to know what she had to say of her experience being a KMP mentor. 

As a newcomer to Australia, what struggles did you face when seeking employment in your profession in Western Australia?
To begin with, I had no idea about the social work field in Australia or how it functioned. Due to this, I found it challenging to identify which jobs were suitable for me and at what level to pitch myself. I also found it challenging to respond to selection criteria having never done this before. It was a struggle to tap into a network of professionals who might be able to give me insights into the field, how it works and how I might apply myself. Before joining the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program, I had never received any responses for the jobs I applied for and that was very disheartening. 

How has your participation in the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program helped you settle into Australia?
The Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program has been a transformative experience. It filled in many of the gaps in my knowledge and understanding of the workspace and job hunting in Australia. It allowed me to be part of a community of fellow immigrants who were undertaking the same journey as I was. Speaking with them and listening to their process has been very insightful. Being a part of this process has instilled in me a confidence in my abilities to navigate this system. It taught me the importance of skills like networking. Most of all, it has given me a truly amazing mentor in Rebecca Hall, whose warmth, consideration, friendship and guidance were just what I needed to overcome the paralysing fear I was experiencing at facing the unknown.   

What opportunities has the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program given you?
The Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program has presented me with opportunities which I could have never imagined accessing had I not been a part of the program. The workshops I got to attend, the people I got to meet and the knowledge and skills I was able to learn have all be invaluable to this journey.  

What kind of skills and knowledge have you gained from joining Kaleidoscope as a mentee?
Specifically, I think the most important skill I learnt was that of networking. Other than that, I have become quite competent at framing selection criteria, identifying jobs that would suit my profile and generally navigating the online job search arena. I also found the cultural competency training given as part of KMP insightful. Talking to Rebecca about my various doubts helped instill inner confidence that I would eventually find my place here. 

Where are you working now/what exciting things are coming up next for you?
Currently, I am working as a volunteer at Bethanie Group. I am also excited to be starting a volunteering position with the City of Canning. am enrolling for a course in First Aid and in 2020 I plan on doing my Cert IV in Training and Assessment to better qualify myself for working here. I am also looking at a master’s program in Expressive Art Therapy, but that is a long-term plan. 

Finally, what advice would you like to give for people thinking of applying as a mentee for the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program?
My advice to people thinking of applying for the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program is to go for it. It will be an empowering and transformative experience. I would also advise them to make the best of every opportunity offered by the program and ask questions, be present and push yourself out of your comfort zone. If you give the program the best of you, it will return dividends far beyond your expectations. This has been my experience.  

 

Know more about the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program and how you too can join as a mentee or a mentor. 

KMP mentoring success story
KMP mentee with her mentor

Gauri Thanasingam, KMP mentee with her KMP mentor Rebecca Keating, City of Stirling Marketing Officer

Rebecca Keating, the City of Stirling Strategic Marketing Officer recently volunteered as a mentor in the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program. Rebecca was mentoring Gauri Thanasingam who migrated to Australia from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, less than a year ago. Gauri wanted to re-enter the workforce in Perth and reached out to the program for guidance and networking opportunities to meet contacts in her field in Australia.

Why did you sign up to be a mentor?

I signed up to be a mentor because I had heard about the program, and also heard first hand from people who had been mentees about the success of the program. I was looking for ways to develop my coaching and leadership skills, and ways to give back to my profession.

I also wanted to be able to draw upon some of the wonderful contacts I have from my profession, who have always given such great advice to me, and that I knew could share this advice with someone who could really benefit.

What was the best part of being a mentor?

Being able to see the changes in Gauri and her positive feedback was great. She has now secured a job in her field and so to say I am so proud and happy for her is an understatement.

What did you personally take away by being a mentor on the program? 

A great friend and contact in my industry. Gauri has so much experience and so much knowledge across many areas of marketing, and much more. She is definitely someone I can learn from. I really was able to develop my coaching skills, and it really forced me to delve into what the industry is looking for and understand how to showcase this in the form of a CV, interview or even when networking.

Did you learn any new skills? 

Refining a CV was something really great to work on as writing one for myself has always come quite naturally for me. Gauri’s CV was so detailed because of how much experience she has, so we really had to work together to fine-tune it and present her skills in a way that was digestible.

Working on my coaching skills also forced me to be able to explain to Gauri how to change her resume, and provide notes on what to do, without actually doing it for her- this was a struggle for me to start off with because I am used to just re-writing things- for friends, family members and so on.

What was challenging?

As I said before it was challenging to know how to frame my notes and workings into a way that Gauri could make sense of then, rather than just re-writing things for her. I am really pleased that I was able to develop these skills.

Would you recommend the program to the other professionals looking to be a mentor?

Absolutely- if you have some spare time, it really is worthwhile.

Know more about the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program and how you too can join as a mentee or a mentor.

Next round of Kaleidoscope opportunities open for newcomers – applications close 3 November

The City of Stirling, City of Canning and the Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre are calling on highly skilled newcomers (migrants and refugees) for the next round of the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program open now until 3 November 2019. (more…)

Kaleidoscope wins National Awards

It gives us great pleasure to share that City of Stirling‘s Kaleidoscope Initiative project has won the overall Excellence Award in the National Awards for Local Government. City of Stirling’s Mayor Mark Irwin, CEO Stuart Jardine and Service Lead for Cultural Diversity and Community, Sarah Janali received the award on behalf of the City of Stirling. Over 880 local government representatives participated in the award ceremony.

(more…)

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