Since arriving in Victoria, Rebecca Desiree has had to cross many bridges to find her way back to meaningful employment. Rebecca is now Special Events Coordinator in the Jobsbank Business Engagement team.
In her previous life, Rebecca would start her day walking along Rue de Geneve. Her walk to work took just a few minutes and included the border crossing from France to Switzerland.
With a background in accounting, Rebecca worked for almost two decades in various roles, and had particularly enjoyed her transition to the tourism industry, and a role as a hotel manager.
It was flexible for a working mum and ideal for an ambitious professional. She took care of day-to-day activities and designed and coordinated detailed itineraries for guests while remaining in her comfort zone, as an introvert by nature.
Two years ago, her husband’s job brought Rebecca and her two young children to Melbourne. Suddenly and shockingly, she went from being a busy professional and working mum to a “migrant with no language,” waiting for her partner visa.
During those first months, Rebecca was not prepared for the paperwork, nor the social isolation. She had no experience of a life without friends, family, or a support network. But most importantly, she had never experienced life without a job.
“I found myself in a bizarre situation,” she recalls. “Where you have no one to talk to, you are alone counting the hours for your partner to return home from work, trying to get through each day. My brain was frozen; I wasn’t thinking like myself anymore, but I tried to keep myself busy. Luckily, I am a book lover. I started language lessons at the local library and have been learning English through books.”
Rebecca began volunteering at the Brotherhood of St. Lawrence Op shops. Working in retail was something she knew how to do, and soon, she was the one training new volunteers. Then one day, she came across a job ad for the Australian Open.
“I sent an email and got a reply. But I was in terror of the language barrier. Then I got the call from Jobsbank. “’Oh you speak French,’ they told me. ‘That’s good.’”
In the meantime, the pandemic had hit, and the city went into lockdown. Rebecca’s interview process was done via Zoom. Through Jobsbank, she received support to apply for the job and prepare for the interviews. She passed the first test; then passed the second.
And then she got the phone call.
“That moment when they told me I got the job, I felt the relief you feel when you are carrying something across. It was the same relief I felt when I gave birth to my children.”
It was a hospitality role in the VIP section, giving directions and helping visitors.
“I felt like I was coming back to life. Those three weeks with the Australian Open were enough for me to feel some self-value returning to my system,” says Rebecca. She then applied via Jobsbank for a role at the Grand Prix. Unfortunately, the event was cancelled before hires could be made.
But Jobsbank came back to her with a job offer to work with employee candidates in special events.
“My first reaction was, ‘but my English is not good enough’,” she remembers. “But nothing seems too difficult for the Business Engagement team. They said, ‘let’s try it out, we’ll start small, and you will have someone to help you with the language.”
The emotion this time was different.
“I felt that I can now cross the bridge. I can continue my way. I was overwhelmed with joy.”
Since then, Rebecca has been working at Jobsbank, building the profiles of candidates and supporting them during Special Event Projects. “I know we cannot fix humans, but we can fix the things around them,’ she says. ‘When I talk to people, I can tell which one is really struggling. That’s why every little story of success gives me joy that is difficult to put in words.”
This story appears in Jobsbank’s forthcoming Annual Report 2020-2021. Keep an eye on the website or sign up to our mailing list in the footer below for more details.