From Navitas English student, to Navitas employee
Sylvia, a former AMEP and Workplace Communication for Professionals (WCP) student celebrated three years of employment at Navitas recently. She shares her experience from Navitas English student to Navitas employee, and her advice for new migrants.
In late 2012, Sylvia left her job at an Investment Banking firm in Kuwait to move to Australia with her husband and three children. Originally from Egypt, moving from one place to another was not a foreign experience for Sylvia. At 17 years of age, Sylvia moved from her country of birth, Egypt to Lebanon to complete her degree in Business Administration. It was there that Sylvia met her husband, where they both studied in Lebanon. From Lebanon, they moved to Jordan and from Jordan they moved to Kuwait where the economy was thriving and there were more opportunities for career progression.
While living in Kuwait, Sylvia and her husband decided to apply for their Australian visas. Despite being comfortable in Kuwait, they decided that moving to Australia would be beneficial to their family in the long-term. However after three years of waiting for their visas, they settled into Kuwait and when they received the email granting them their visas, their enthusiasm had waned and the decision to leave once more was much harder. Kuwait had been home for ten years, during this time they built up their careers and made a life for themselves. Moving no longer felt necessary, however they knew their family would benefit from this move. Australia offered safety, security and better opportunities for themselves and their children.
“I wasn’t enthusiastic to move. I worked hard to get to where I reached in Kuwait and I really didn’t want to start from scratch again. But then I did feel at peace when we got the email saying we had been granted a visa. So we decided to leave everything and move to Australia.”
Sylvia and her husband sold all their furniture, packed up their things and read their way through settlement books before moving over. Through this preparation, Sylvia discovered she was eligible to study English as part of the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP), a government funded program.
Once in Australia, Sylvia discovered a Navitas English College in Cabramatta, a short distance from her home. While she was eligible for the free English lessons as the partner of a skilled migrant, her husband was not. Sylvia commenced study soon after arriving into Australia.
“I was so excited to study English at Navitas English Cabramatta, I started right away. We arrived late November 2012 and I started in February 2013.”
Sylvia’s first couple of days were hard; she was one of few students who spoke Arabic. However, it didn’t take long for her to settle in and appreciate being around students who spoke other languages. Sylvia however owes her quick transition to her teacher.
“The first day was tough; everyone was Vietnamese and spoke Vietnamese. By the second and third day I was feeling good though. I had a great teacher, he took us on excursions. He told us a lot about Australia, it wasn’t just English. He treated each student at their own level, for those of us with higher level of English he gave us extra homework, extra passages to read and sent it by email.”
Sylvia recalls learning about Australia as one of the key highlights of the course and being able to teach Australian-born friends things they did not know themselves.
While studying in the AMEP at Cabramatta, Sylvia discovered the WCP course. When she had completed most of her hours, she enrolled into the course at Navitas English Parramatta. Sylvia recalls the phone call she received to inform her that she had been accepted into the course as one of her first big achievements in Australia.
“The day I got the phone call that I was accepted into the course, it was such an achievement. When you go to a new country, starting everything new, anything even simple, small things like being accepted into a course are huge achievements.”
The WCP course includes three weeks of work experience at the end of the course, organised by a work placement advisor. However, when everyone commenced their first week of work experience, Sylvia had not received a placement. While at the time it was extremely worrying for Sylvia as she knew the importance of local experience on her CV, today she looks back as it being a blessing in disguise.
With only two weeks left of placement, Sylvia was offered an opportunity at the Australian College of Applied Psychology (ACAP), part of Navitas. While everyone had three weeks, Sylvia only had two. With only two weeks to showcase her skills, she made sure to make the most of the opportunity. Her hard work payed off, as soon as she finished work placement she was offered casual work. When the casual employment ended with ACAP, Sylvia was offered another role in a different business unit. The position started as casual; however Sylvia impressed her employers and was offered on-going employment. Three years later and she is still working at Navitas.
Sylvia believes the AMEP course provided her with the opportunity to not only learn English but learn about Australia and meet new people, helping her to settle into Australia faster.
“Even if your English level is high you need this. When I first came over, people said to me you don’t need to learn English, just search for a job, you don’t need to waste your time. I said well I need this time, this transition period, it’s important to me. It is emotional settlement. You start to feel you belong, the multicultural activities that we do at the college, it makes you feel you belong to this country. It’s not just about learning English, it is everything else, it is about learning about Australia, it gives you a good start. You have the basic knowledge.”
“I would highly recommend new migrants to take this course; it is a good transition from where they were to where they will be. If I stayed home where would I have had all this knowledge about Australia and networked with students and people?”
Sylvia believes while the AMEP course was useful to learn English and about Australia, the WCP provided her with the opportunity to discover her strengths and weaknesses, however she believes it was the work experience that was the greatest highlight.
“The WCP helped us to get to know ourselves and get ready for interviews. The best part of the course is the three weeks’ local work experience. Everyone wants to have this on their CV.You physically get into a workplace and other people can see your skills at work and recommend you.”
Sylvia’s advice to other students: “enjoy it to the maximum, get the most out of it, network and get involved with activities, this is what will set you up.”
Above: Sylvia presenting to a Workplace Communication for Professionals class.Tweet