Tommy Adebayo migrated to Australia from Nigeria 16 years ago. Tommy arrived with an engineering degree and work experience obtained in his home country. However, in the absence of local references, professional and social networks, Tommy initially found the search for employment in Australia difficult.
Other challenges included having his overseas qualifications and experience recognised, in addition to limited knowledge of Australian workplace culture and systems.
Like many migrants, I had many questions during my adjustment period to Australian society and workplace culture. Finding answers was not easy for me. Sometimes I had to go to 20 different places to get information. There was no one-stop-shop.
Facing the challenges
Tommy found that having an open mind and working really hard helped him to get through this tough time. He focussed on building his professional networks, acquiring new skills and qualifications, and seeking out opportunities to gain local work experience.
Tommy says the following steps were important in his journey to employment:
- Volunteering to acquire Australian work experience
- Attending networking events organised by community and professional organisations
- Reading books about Australian workplace culture and etiquette
- Completing a post graduate course with greater job prospects
- Joining a Toastmasters club to improve his communication skills
- Attending short courses at TAFE to improve report writing skills, time management skills, conflict resolution skills, interview skills and resume writing skills
- Engaging the services of a career coach, to provide coaching on specific employment-seeking strategies, such as job searching, job applications and interview skills.
Tommy remembers with a smile,
I never complained or feel bad about the money I spent on up-skilling myself. I always saw these factors as an investment in the future to achieve my career goals.
Fast forward to the present. Tommy has just finished co-facilitating a job seeker workshop series, “Kick-starting Your Career in Australia Workshop Series” for the Kaleidoscope Initiative run throughout October and November. This workshop series will again run in February and March (Register now).
He has recently released a book, Migrant Success 101, a comprehensive career guide for new arrivals to Australia. And he is the founder and CEO of a successful online magazine SMP, Skilled Migrant Professionals. He is also the Health Safety Environment Quality Manager at Total Marine Technology, where he has been employed for the past twelve years.
Hanging out with employed migrants to learn from and be mentored by helped me recognise that even with hard work you cannot succeed alone.
Building a professional network
Tommy’s top tip for newcomers is to create a network of people who can help you to succeed in Australia.
Connecting with a professional network helps newcomers to get exposure to employment opportunities. I got my current job through a networking function.
Tommy has actively contributed to the development of professional networks that have benefited not only himself, but many other migrants. He is a founding member and the current National Chairperson of the African Professionals of Australia.
There are multiple ways to access professional networks to increase your opportunities. Attend networking functions – these can be specific migrant events such as events for migrant engineers, or events such as Australian Institute of Management WA professional networking events. Have a look around to find out if your profession or cultural group has a professional network or chamber of commerce. You can also cast the net wider by attending Alumni Associations’ events of the universities you have studied through.
Tommy found that finding a mentor in his field that could guide him through the maze of the new professional world was really helpful. Newcomers can meet potential mentors through the professional networks.
Join Tommy Adebayo and co-facilitator Jill Ashcroft in February for the next Kick-starting Your Career In Australia workshop series.
Visit our newcomers page for tips on building a professional network and services that can help you achieve your employment goals in Australia.