“Living my dream”: Aieshee’s amazing journey with Navitas

By Fiona West | August 20, 2021

Salma Meher Aieshee enrolled as a student at Navitas English to improve her communication, learn about Australian culture and connect with people from different backgrounds. She didn’t know it would help her achieve so much more – including overcoming a major phobia and landing her dream job.

Aieshee, 35, said Navitas English had been with her for every step of her settlement journey since migrating from Bangladesh to be with her new husband in March 2018.

“I am so grateful to Navitas; I don’t know how to express it,” she said.
“Everything I have done here I can trace back to them.”

Aieshee initially enrolled in the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) at Bankstown, then Pathways to Work at Cabramatta, then later one-on-one classes with a volunteer from the Volunteer Tutor Scheme. She also took part in trainer Michelle Cowan’s English for Swimming Project, which would not only cure her fear of water, but would also be the unexpected catalyst for her new career.

Aieshee with husband Subbir.

“One of the best things during the AMEP was the workshops Michelle arranged – resume workshops, LinkedIn workshops, and we did lots of mock interviews, so all those things were super helpful to me,” Aieshee said.

“I then applied for SPLET (Settlement Pathways Language to Employment & Training) and joined the office skills program at Cabramatta. The best part of the program is I got the opportunity to do an internship for two weeks with a real estate company. This gave me experience I needed in Australia.

“Then Michelle (Cowans) was running the English for Swimming program and she invited me to do it. At first I didn’t want to because I had water phobia and also I wasn’t working so I couldn’t afford it. But Michelle did some background magic to help me and it worked – thank goodness.”

Aieshee with Navitas English learning designer Michelle Cowans.

The swimming program, which combines English lessons with practical swimming instruction in the pool, helped Aieshee overcome her water phobia, and by the end of the program she could tread water, swim 10 to 15 metres and, most importantly, enjoy getting into the water.

But the biggest bonus was securing a job with the swimming company, which at the time was looking for an administrative assistant.

“The other instructor of the swimming program, Kari, was looking for an admin assistant for her company and Michelle worked as a match maker. So I applied there and, yeah, I got the job!”

Aieshee worked for Different Strokes Swimming for two years before the consequences of COVID-19 forced her position to be outsourced.

“The business struggled a lot because of COVID. Most fitness companies run online classes but you can’t run virtual swimming programs. It was a hard time because I loved working there. The good part about working in a small company is you have lots of opportunity to learn different things. I started as an admin assistant but I ended up doing lots of other tasks, like sales, accounts, HR, everything.”

Losing the job was a low point for Aieshee, who at the time was also worried about her family in Bangladesh, with some of her “nearest and dearest” in hospital with COVID-19. She said, even then Navitas was a huge support.  

“When I lost the job, Michelle always texted me, ‘Don’t lose hope, everything will be OK’. Just a small text means a lot, especially during a difficult time,” Aieshee said.

Navitas also introduced her to Dress for Success, which helped with workshops to help regain her confidence and revise her resume.

“I started preparing myself for the next job, thinking, ‘I came here for a better life; I came here with big dreams.
I have to start working on my dream’,” Aieshee said.

With a technical background, Aieshee enrolled in some courses during the pandemic lockdown, including Mindbody certification, which was the software she was using at Different Strokes Swimming.

“I enrolled in it because I had practical experience with the software. I had no idea it would help me but I just did it for my own satisfaction,” she said.

But in a moment of pure serendipity, US company Mindbody was recruiting in its Sydney customer support team in the technical department. Aieshee applied – and got the job!”

“When I saw the job I couldn’t believe it. I applied and I didn’t expect anything to be honest but, yeah, magically, they called me and I got the job after passing four rounds.”

Aieshee is loving her new job and is “really grateful” to Navitas.

Aieshee has now been working in her new job for one month and said, “It’s going great”.

“I am so happy. I had a dream when I came here and now I am living that dream,” Aieshee said.

“I am really grateful to Navitas. It’s so helpful for migrants like me because when we come to Australia we don’t know where to go, where to start. Navitas helps us to build a network and it shows lots of heart.”

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