Volunteer Spotlight

Schools Industry Partnership, Vanessa Perkins
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Meet Maha

Maha is one of Inspiring the Future volunteer’s. We asked Maha a few questions about her experiences volunteering with Inspiring the Future:


How long have you been an Inspiring the future volunteer?

I signed up to be a volunteer with ITF Australia shortly after their launch in April 2017.  I read about the launch at a local High School and couldn’t wait to be involved.


What made you want to sign up to volunteer with Inspiring the Future?

I loved learning when I was at school – without really knowing what career I wanted to pursue.  I was extremely shy and was terrified of making mistakes and being embarrassed, so I put a lot of pressure on myself.

I wanted to give students the benefit of experience from someone that survived the mindset of ‘I have to be perfect’ – I wanted to remind them not to be hard on themselves – if you make a mistake your world doesn’t end, learn from it and move on.  Added to that, I didn’t have a traditional career path and wanted to pass on the experience of how taking your opportunities can lead to a career that brings you happiness and purpose.


What is it about volunteering with Inspiring the Future that you really enjoy?

I love interacting with students and school leavers  and seeing the excitement on their faces when they hear about job titles they didn’t know existed.  Or hearing about the positive results that come from holding an ITF event - like students signing up for traineeships and apprenticeships – or feeling more confident after attending a mock interview day.


Has your career journey taken the path you imagined it would?

No! Although I’m a ‘life-long learner’ by nature, I didn’t want to go straight onto Uni after High School – I felt I needed a ‘break’J.  Despite my friend’s efforts trying to convince me to do the Public Service Exam (that opened up Admin roles in most government owned organisations), I decided to have a gap year.

At the end of that year, a chance meeting with a film makeup artist had me researching courses and I eventually enrolled in and completed a Diploma in Beauty Therapy over 12 months at a privately run school – I worked as a Beauty Therapist for six years and loved it! 

When I got married I needed a job that had better wages and would help us save for a house.  I started a 12 week Business Admin Course and ended up getting a job before I finished. This took me in a completely different direction than I ever thought I’d go.  Ironically, I ended up working with my friend in an Admin role she recommended me for (thank goodness for loyal friends!). 

That admin role took me on to all sorts of opportunities in an organisation that became my ‘training ground’ for the family business we’re running today.

I have to mention that after leaving that large organisation, I couldn’t help completing a Certificate IV in Colour and Design just to feed my creative side and it also presented quite a few opportunities that came from my new found knowledge.

All in all, I feel grateful for the brilliant people I’ve met along the way and the excellent knowledge I’ve gained, just from being curious and taking advantage of opportunities that came my way.


What is something about your career journey that has surprised you?

Because I was always the over-cautious type, I tended to underestimate my abilities – I was amazed at what I achieved in roles I would not have thought about taking on (like technical IT type roles). 

The Cert IV was another reminder – I took it on to challenge my thinking processes after working in very ‘logical’ environments.  I enrolled thinking ‘this is exciting, but I hope we don’t have to draw anything! J.  I walked away with a portfolio I was very proud of and one I wouldn’t have thought possible at the start of the course!


What is one piece of advice that you would share with young people today?

If you aren’t sure what you want to do at the moment, it won’t stop you from having a great career.  Sometimes, an opportunity that someone offers you, ends up taking you on a journey in a job you never thought you’d be doing.  Take those opportunities and above all – have fun, meet people, form friendships and always be prepared to learn, learn, learn! 

It’s all about having the courage to start and making connections along the way – it’s the people that always make the difference in your day-to-day enjoyment of the job.