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I had been working at a mobile operator in Iraq when I was forced to leave in June 2014. I don’t want to talk about those days because the memories are so painful.
My wife and I went to Jordan, where we lived for two years. My refugee visa didn’t give me work rights in the beginning, so I did some volunteer work for a church, trying to help other refugees.
I was then able to get a job in IT support, and worked there for two years until we left for Australia in 2016. It wasn’t my main expertise, but because I’d studied computer engineering I had enough knowledge to get a job. I thought that in Australia I’d look for jobs online, maybe go to a couple of interviews and then get a job.
The reality was different. I applied for around 20 jobs and didn’t get a single call back. I contacted people in the telecoms sector via Linkedin to say that I was looking for a job. A manager at a telecoms company invited me for a coffee to explain how to get work in the industry.
The first question he asked was, “Who is in your network?”. At first I didn’t understand. Then I said that he was the first person I’d met. He said that having a network is so important; no one gets a job just from contacting someone on Linkedin.
I was frustrated – how could I get a local network if I’m not part of the telecoms industry?
I’d started looking for a job in October 2016 and my first meeting with CareerSeekers was in October 2017. I was sceptical at first, but I could see that they had a clear vision. It was during that meeting that I started thinking that I would be able to restart my professional career.
I attended the pre-employment training in November and started my internship in February. The job interview was for the position of a field service technician. I had 10 years’ experience as an engineer, but all the same I was happy to accept the role because it was a job to get me going. At the interview they recognised what I could do and offered an internship as a network engineer.
Working in Australia is really different from Iraq. On my first day, my manager Alison introduced me to everyone. Then she took me to my desk. She later invited me out with our colleagues for lunch. Alison was very supportive in helping me cope with the new experience, as was Diane, Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Council.
I never felt fully settled until I started working. It was then I said to myself, “This is my home. I am a useful resident who contributes to the community”.
After I started working, my wife and I could start planning for our future. We had our first baby in January. My work has such a positive impact on my personal life.