Rebecca Hall, City 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 – I 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 team. Her 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. I 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.