When you are looking for a job it is often not what you know but who you know that counts. But what if you are a career changer moving into a new town? Or a retrenched worker looking to take your skills into a new industry? Or a parent returning to work, or a Uni graduate trying to get a start? The ideal solution would be to find a mentor, someone from within the new industry who could help you experience a day in their lives.
How good would it be to enjoy a high level immersion, some insider tips on the kind of training and experience your new industry values, and even some all important contacts?
Until recently this kind of experience was limited to students doing VET (Vocational Educational and Training) studies in school. But now Experience for Work is available to everyone. The Geelong Region Local Learning and Employment Network project enables any career seeker to access experience for work as part of the Geelong Careers website.
It was just the start Ian Campbell was looking for.
‘I wanted to move to Geelong to be with my parents who are getting on and we were living on a property near Mudgee, NSW where there were few opportunities for my wife and children.
‘I know Geelong, I grew up in Corio and so I knew there was a lot happening here.’
Trawling for contacts and a way to try his ICT skills in a Geelong workplace, Ian found just what he was looking for – a small Facebook post on Geelong Careers’ Facebook page, introducing Experience for Work.
‘I posted a reply on Geelong Careers Facebook page and Sue Smith contacted me. I really appreciate what Sue did for me. She introduced me to two great ICT companies – Digital Smith and Deakin University.’
With Sue as the placement coordinator, Ian went on to do a short-term experience for work with Toby Durden from Deakin. It was just the boost his confidence and experience needed.
‘I got a lot of information about skills sets, what is required and what is happening in the area. Toby encouraged me to believe that employment was on my horizon so I felt positive.’
‘A short time later I got called in to the Australian Bureau of Statistics for an interview and then offered a Geelong based position. Perfect! I ended up selling the house in NSW and moving everyone down here.’
Ian gained a lot from his involvement in Experience for Work. ‘Up until this program I didn’t know about the range of jobs, the opportunity within the ICT industry in Geelong. Experience for work let me see it hands on and gave me much better insights.’
Sue Smith from the GRLLEN thrives on helping people like Ian. ‘Making good matches gives me such a buzz. It’s great matching the employer with a career seeker!’
‘I like everything about experience for work. I like that it is a well designed model. I like giving people an insight into an industry they are trying to get into, no matter what that industry. I like building people’s contacts, giving them something great to add to their resume.’ Sue’s main job satisfaction comes from seeing people like Ian progress into work.
Sue’s enthusiasm is contagious. Together with the Experience for Work team, and supported by funds from the Commonwealth Government’s Pivot Summit, she has been able to source more than 30 unique immersion experiences in some of Geelong’s top performing companies, and is adding to these every day.
‘Sometimes I think employers give me what I want so I will go away and stop annoying them!’
Career seekers like Ian Campbell are grateful that she doesn’t!