Originally published at gapajobmagazine.com
Working hard to complete your education is a great thing. If you’re anything like me you frequently lapse into ‘dream job’ fantasies which generally depict you as the best thing to ever happen to your chosen industry (c’mon, I know you do!). But I also lapse into another kind of day dream. In this day dream, I am working hard, tirelessly in fact, for a cause I believe in, changing lives, preserving forests, whatever. As long as I’m doing some good in our world. But it always seemed to me like you had to make a difficult choice between the two: be educated and well paid in the profession of your choice but not really making a difference in the scheme of things, or spend all of my time working for NGOs but never having enough money to pay the bills. So I got to wondering. Surely there is a way to do both.
Well, in this series of articles we will talk to people who are using their university educations to have a genuine positive impact in their communities.
Case One: Rachel Hanley, Project Management
Some people are born knowing what they want in life. Others stumble upon it while haphazardly sifting through the array of options offered up to them. Rachel Hanley found out her particular want in a moment of youthful clarity that has stayed with her since. When organizing a football clinic as part of a year 10 project, she realised that project management was what made her tick.
Now, at 24, she is studying a diploma of project management while she works full time. To gain some hands on experience she decided to reply to an advert found on classifieds website Gumtree for a volunteer researcher with a small not-for-profit program called Bounce.
Bounce runs mentoring programs and workshops for people between 16-24 years of age who come from refugee backgrounds, and assists them with integrating and adjusting to their new lives. Within a few months Rachel’s role had expanded into facilitating workshops, booking venues and speakers, and numerous other tasks a project manager needs to be able to do.
Rachel originally intended to find project management work in a completely different field but after expanding her skills with Bounce, has found her passion for the cause matches her love of project management. ‘It’s a really good way to get experience, develop skills, communication and problem solving skills and you’re helping people at the same time- it’s a win win, really,’ she says.
When asked about the cause itself, Rachel’s feeling for the people she works with is written clearly across her face. She explains the program aims to mentor 16-24 year olds with refugee backgrounds. There is a high demand for services for people in this age group because people under the age of 30 make up almost two thirds of the figures for refugees resettled within Australia. They are equipped with the skills to gain employment, make friends and improve their quality of life. Equally important, they are equipped to become productive and valuable members of society.
She was especially touched during a Refugee Council of Australia talk when an older lady spoke of her struggle to get her sister over, and how depressed she had become. On the whole though, Rachel says it’s an uplifting, inspiring experience when she works with the mentees.
Seeking asylum is a right guaranteed under the UN 1951 Refugee Convention. In a situation where a person risks being killed travelling to the shops to purchase food for their family, travelling 100km to the nearest UN office to claim refugee status may be unthinkable. Even if they managed to get to a UN office, if they didn’t have papers they would be turned away and be unable to make a claim. Rachel hopes to continue combining her love of project management with her love of helping people well into the future.