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From Volunteering to Employment

Posted June 6, 2022

volunteering to employment

Meet Muhamad Abduh

Prace volunteers are highly valued members of our community and their diverse skills and experience are hugely beneficial to the students they support. In Muhamad Abduh’s case, decades of teaching and a passion for education, combined with a decision to pivot on his career path, mean he has developed some very practical tips for students transitioning into employment.

Muhamad began his career as an academic at the University of Bengkulu after completing a Bachelor (Honours) of Economics at Andalas University in Indonesia. He also completed his Master of Economics and PhD in Business Studies at La Trobe University and during his tenure at the University of Bengkulu held the position of Associate Professor in the Faculty of Economics and Business. Muhamad also served as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship in Swinburne University’s Faculty of Economics and Business. He also held several leadership roles with business, community, research and cultural organisations in both Australia and Indonesia as he led a transnational life, moving between the two countries.

While economics and business had been his original chosen path, Muhamad felt the pull towards more community-based work as this gave him great satisfaction and he had natural flair for mentoring and developing networks. He moved permanently to Australia in 2019 and soon decided his future lay in working within the community. This put him, after decades of professional experience in other fields, in the unusual position of being a jobseeker in an area in which he had little formal experience. 

Volunteering in the community

He developed his community ties by volunteering at Mernda Community House, in an English conversation class taught by Prace’s much-loved Konstantina Vlahos. Muhamad then became a member of Deb Vallely’s amazing volunteering team and helped in Soheir Youssef’s Computer Classes and in Irina Giles’ Conversational English classes. 

As well as volunteering at Prace, Whittlesea Community Connection and Mernda Community House, Muhamad also joined the Advisory Group at Mernda and became a Board Member with Vocational Education & Training at Melbourne Polytechnic.

Muhamad achieved his goal to pursue community work when he was recently offered the position of an Employment Outreach Mentor with the Brotherhood of St Laurence. Muhamad has kindly offered to share his top tips for people hoping to transition into employment.

Volunteering – a great way to kickstart your career

by Muhamad Abduh

When I decided to change career paths I found that I was in the difficult position of not really having a track record in similar jobs, or even suitable network of referees. I decided to start volunteering and it brought multiple benefits. This is what I found.

  • A track record in volunteering adds weight to your resume, especially if you are volunteering with a well-respected organisation. I could see that people were impressed that I listed Prace on my resume.
  • Start volunteering as soon as you can. Having relevant volunteering experience on your resume carries weight, but it’s important to have a reasonable track record. If you sign up to volunteer at the same time you are applying for the job you may not seem genuine. You need to demonstrate not only your commitment, but also that you have been volunteering long enough to have picked up the relevant knowledge and skills.
  • Volunteering experience gives you the opportunity to find referees for your job applications. It is hard to find a professional referee if you haven’t worked in the specific area.
  • It gives you the chance to improve “soft” skills as well as industry specific skills. For example, although I had learned English as a student, I had become rusty over the years and volunteering gave me the opportunity to brush up my communication skills. Likewise with teamwork, time management and other generic workplace skills.
  • It gives you confidence because you work with a diverse range of people in diverse situations – in my case I had the chance to work with people from CALD backgrounds. Doing something is always more powerful than just hearing about it!
  • For people from places other than Australia it can take time to understand the local work environment and volunteering gives you insight into how organisations operate here.

So there you have it. Volunteering is an excellent way to become job-ready, so jump in and get started as soon as you can.

Are you interested in volunteering? Find out more about Volunteering at Prace.