Ventia has partnered with the not-for-profit social enterprise CareerSeekers since 2019. During that that time we have supported both mid-career interns and university students looking for work experience. 

"We got involved in the program to provide career opportunities to refugees to further our goal to create a diverse workforce that is representative of the community," says Loes Westerbeek-Veld, Ventia's Social Inclusion Manager

I've been really privileged to support and work with many of the interns we've had come through the doors at Ventia over the years, many of whom we've been able to extend employment offers to.

CareerSeekers General Manager Lynn Anderson explains they are a social enterprise that supports humanitarian arrivals to overcome the barriers they face when seeking to establish and recommence their careers in Australia.

"We have two unique groups of participants," Lynn says. "Mid-career professionals who have tertiary qualifications and professional work experience abroad, and university students from a refugee background who undertake internships during their holiday breaks."

Lynn says that the multi-year agreement with Ventia was initially set up with a focus on providing opportunities to mid-career professionals, but due to the pandemic interrupting programs, we adjusted plans and welcomed university students. 

The internships give students the chance to learn about the Australian workplace, link their studies to practical experience and develop relationships with industry mentors.

Group of CareerSeekers interns at a conference

Ventia has partnered with CareerSeekers, a not-for-profit social enterprise since 2019.

Kazmi: driving sustainability initiatives

Due to his experience working with large international organisations, Matiullah Kazmi (Kazmi) provided valuable support to Ventia's Sustainability team over a three month period, analysing Ventia's current approach to social sustainability and preparing various other inputs. 

Kazmi was born in Pakistan as an Afghan refugee, following his parents' move there in the late 1970's. He was lucky enough to be educated in Pakistan, achieving his Masters Degree in Sociology, but securing a good job there was less straightforward. 

Throughout Kazmi's 12-week internship at Ventia, he worked under the guidance of Group Manager Sustainability Alexandra Monson.

I undertook a deep dive of Ventia's sustainability approach, also helped the team with elements of the Reconciliation Action Plan, and looked into the data to track our progress against the Sustainability Development Goal (SDG) targets.

"Working on a Reconciliation Action Plan was also new for me, and I learned a lot about the work being done in reconciliation in Australia and Indigenous people," Kazmi elaborates.

"It was good to be able to put my skills to use in a different context." 

Read more about Kazmi's experience here.

Kazmi (centre) pictured with members of the Skout, CareerSeekers and Ventia team.

Nashwan: engineering intern to full time employee 

Nashwan Al-Bashiri joined Ventia as an engineering intern in September 2021 at our Sydney Roads Asset Performance (SRAP) contract, working with the Project Delivery team. 

Born in Yemen's capital city Sana'a, Nashwan has pursued his passion for engineering across the globe. Upon completing his Bachelors Degree in Civil Engineering at the Infrastructure University in Kuala Lumpur and his Masters Degree in Civil Engineering at UKM University, Malaysia, Nashwan worked as a site engineer in Yemen and Malaysia., before moving to Sydney, Australia, in August 2018. 

'I worked very hard to become proficient as a civil engineer, so I am passionate about pursuing it,' Nashwan says. 

Nashwan lived in Australia for three years, searching for a job in engineering before he connected with Ventia through the CareerSeekers program.

They connected me with Ventia. They really helped me find a professional placement in Australia, which can be difficult without local experience.

Throughout his internship, Nashwan had broad responsibilities across a wide range of tasks and projects that enabled him to build on his existing technical skills and knowledge, learn about Australian Standards and improve his software skills. 

Nashwan excelled throughout his CareerSeekers internship. Leveraging his previous knowledge and experience and tackling all the challenges and learnings the internship presented, his hard work, dedication and commitment were rewarded with a full-time position with the SRAP contract at the end of 2021.  

You can read more of Nashwan's story here

Pictured: Nashwan at the SRAP project in Western Sydney, where he now works full time. 

Sophia: a double degree and a talent for PR

Sophia Eyob started her 12-week internship in late November 2021, joining the stakeholder engagement team on Ventia's Western Road Upgrade contract in Melbourne. Sophia was in her final year of a double degree at Deakin University in Accounting and PR, after moving to Australia from Eritrea via Kenya in 2016 as part of the humanitarian program. 

"So far, I prefer the PR side of things," Sophia says.

I like being able to see the results of my efforts in the positive responses from the communities we work with.

Sophia supported the stakeholder engagement team helping deliver communications to local residents and businesses about upcoming works on the roads, addressing enquiries from a diverse array of stakeholders and ensuring the contract team continues to build a strong brand and reputation for delivery across the communities they work in.

She says that stepping out of her comfort zone to deal with stakeholders, whether over the phone or face to face, has helped give her confidence. 

"The job market is very competitive," she says. "I feel this will help give me an edge and the ability to grab hold of opportunities."

Read more on Sophia's experience here

Sophia Eyob pictured sitting at desk
Pictured: Sophia Eyob

Mostafa's first internship experience

An interest in architecture at high school led to Mostafa enrolling in a Construction Management degree at RMIT three years ago. He was referred to CareerSeekers by a friend of his who had been helped by the organisation. Mostafa came to Australia from Afghanistan as a child.

Mostafa joined our Mornington Peninsula Shire FM contract in December 2020, through which we maintain the Shire's open spaces, parklands and buildings.

"This is my first internship," Mostafa says. "It's been a great experience, allowing me to learn a lot of new, practical skills as well as putting into practice all the things I have been learning through my studies at university."

My advice to other students is to set your mind to what you want and go for it. Don't be scared to try new things!

Mostafa Abassi sitting at desk
Pictured: Mostafa Abassi

Delivering value to teams

Loes Westerbeek says these placements have been great for the business as well as the interns.

"We look forward to working with CareerSeekers on scoping further university and mid-career placements across our business in the years to come.'

For more information on CareerSeekers or how to get involved, visit the CareerSeekers website.