Article by Neha Shinghal, Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program mentee | Photos by Sonja Porter, Kaleidoscope Initiative Volunteer
Living and working abroad is an aspiration for many, but it can seem like a far-fetched goal. Just the decision making process can be overwhelming. Which visa to apply for? Whether to apply for a job before making the first move? How to address the issues of job application and interview process? A newcomer also has to consider the fact that in a new country, there would be a different work culture, different language and nuances of daily life with which one may have no familiarity with. Where do you start?
To make this transition easier for skilled migrants and skilled refugees arriving in Western Australia, the City of Stirling, the City of Canning, and the Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre (MMRC) have partnered with Toronto Regional Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) and developed the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program for the skilled migrants and refugees.
A mentor and a mentee share the journey of professional development together. There is much to be gained from both ends.
As a mentor, Sarah Janali, Team Leader, Cultural Diversity and Community, the City of Stirling, was able to share her experiences and insight of nearly 20 years working in community services industry.
She found herself wondering more about the challenges that skilled migrants face in gaining employment in their profession in Western Australia.
“The program really helped me gain a deeper appreciation for the humongous effort and struggles the professional migrants and refugees go through, in seeking to reconnect with their careers in WA,” Sarah said.
Sarah also realised this was a great opportunity to further develop her leadership skills.
“It was a brilliant opportunity for my own professional development and really enhanced my mentoring and coaching skills,“ she said.
Her mentee, Iranian born, has more than 20 years international experience. Saeideh is looking for a counselling role and is now completing her final year of her PhD in Psychology from the Curtin University.
Despite her highly developed skill sets and extensive experience, Saeideh found herself in a vulnerable position and out of her comfort zone as she stumbled across various obstacles during her job search process in Western Australia.
The most prominent barriers were having no local work experience, English being her second language, limited resources and networks and unfamiliarity with workplace in Australia.
Joining the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program, and working with her mentor gave Saeideh the confidence to apply for jobs, and a deeper understanding of the work culture.
“Sarah helped me expand my networks within Western Australia. Through her mentoringship we also identified it would be beneficial for me to apply for an additional certificate which I would never have known if Sarah hadn’t pointed it out to me,” Saeideh said.
“The program also helped me boost my confidence in the whole job search and application process. It gave me clear skills and knowledge on how to apply for jobs, addressing selection criteria and how to be successful in interviews,” she said.
Saeideh has this advice for potential mentees, “This program is a wonderful opportunity. If you want to get a job and save your time, attend this program and work hard with your mentor to reach your career goals.”
Although Sarah Janali works with skilled migrants on her work team, and already has an understanding of the value they offer, her understanding of the barriers that skilled migrants and refugees face has deepened with the Kaleidoscope Mentoring Program.
This partnership works both ways, giving the mentor an opportunity to help another individual unlock their potential as well as giving the mentee much needed skills, network and confidence in preparing them for the workforce, increasing their chance of employ-ability and assisting them with their job application process.