From a very young age, I remember my favorite play game was to pretend I was working. I was the teacher, the secretary, the horse-jumping instructor! My family had great aspirations for me, which involved me getting a job and being successful at it.
I started working part-time when I was in 8th grade. I was only 14 years old and this was way before any of my friends had jobs. I had all sorts of jobs ever since, always earning money while studying, feeling independent from a young age, and planning my next move. I also knew from a very young age that I loved career coaching. We had a family friend who became a career coach, after a long corporate career. She was fun, enthusiastic, and extremely in love with her profession. I admired her and she gave great advice, some of which I didn’t follow because I was young and stubborn. Now I look back and think wow, I’ve always known this about me, and it’s because Ilse told me this when I was 10, 16 years old!
That independent thinking and planning experience led my husband and me to move to Australia in 2001. We wanted to live in a safe country to raise our 2 boys, and we were exhausted about everything in our home country: the long commutes to work, the traffic, the insecurity about the economy, and most importantly, the safety of our family.
Moving to Australia was a major undertaking, which required careful planning and a whole lot of courage. Furthermore, a few months after we arrived, my husband and I felt really scared about our situation. We ran out of money very quickly, much faster than we planned.
You see, my husband was a contractor with United Airlines. It was our only source of income and it required him to travel to the head office in Chicago regularly. On the morning of September 11, 2001, he departed for the US from Melbourne. I only saw him again 5 weeks later. I didn’t hear from him for many hours after the terrorist attacks, and I had no idea where he was, and if he was safe. Finally, he called me from Hawaii: his plane and many others had been diverted. Many passengers would be returning to Australia, but he had to make it to Chicago to help his team during the crisis. Things got really complicated at United Airlines, they filed for bankruptcy a few days later, and he didn't get paid for 5 months.
So, I had to look for work. My sons were 7 and 4 at the time, I was in a new country alone with them, no friends (yet), no family, no connections, and to remain in Australia, I had to continue studying full-time. No one would employ me. I had no idea how to job hunt in a new country, or what type of work I could or wanted to do. My story wasn’t compelling because my career in Australia was just starting, and by moving here to study, I was also changing careers. So my pitch had no heads nor tail.
[Photo: Exo Digital for Lean In Melbourne]
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I used to volunteer at university, helping them organize events for overseas agents, as I used to be one myself. In one of these events, I met the Deputy Dean International. He was really interested in knowing more about my time as an educational agent in Brazil. I asked if he needed someone to work for him, and he said yes!
I was finally safe again. I also realized I had found my feet the same way I got my very first job and the same way my career coach friend had taught me: by talking to people, connecting with them, and showing them that I can help.
From then on, I had a great career, I became a senior executive and had many successes. I also started studying career-related topics, taking notes on how to applying for jobs, negotiate salaries and promotions, and deal with recruiters. I kept records of all my career fails and all my successes. I always knew that one day I wanted to help others with their careers.
I’ve been hired, I’ve moved countries, changed careers, applied for roles - successfully and unsuccessfully - I’ve been headhunted, had kids, took steps backward and forwards in my career... Ultimately, I had a very successful career as a senior executive.
That rich experience, together with my extensive research, training, professional network, and connections in the headhunting and recruitment sector allows me to provide great support to my clients and students. I've now combined my knowledge to create a blueprint for my clients. This system, or blueprint, was developed by me over many years. I’ve introduced it to clients, students, and friends. It’s been tested and I feel very confident that it will make a HUGE positive difference to my clients’ career prospects and future success.
In this episode of The Job Hunting podcast, I explain the steps my husband and I took to move to Australia, and why we did it. It's great sharing my story on the podcast, as many people ask me about it: why I’ve moved to Australia, why and how I changed jobs, and how I got to where I am now.Listen now
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