When Covid-19 hit, Deakin University student Jenifer Shariff’s plans were turned upside down.
Lockdowns saw her Masters of Landscape Architecture studies extended by almost a year and her part-time jobs – working in a fruit store and doing some freelance/casual landscaping – disappear.
Jenifer had no income for six months and struggled to pay rent, support her family and pay her debts.
Then she saw a Working for Victoria job advertisement on Sidekicker, an online jobs hub, that changed the course of the pandemic for her.
Instead of having to worry where her next pay cheque would come from or how she would get the on-the-job experience necessary to impress future employers, Working for Victoria saw her get work in her area of study and expertise.
Having started WfV at the City of Greater Geelong Council, Jenifer now works at Benalla Rural City Council as a project officer (landscape architecture).
“I’m using my qualifications in landscape architecture and learning so much from the people I work with,” Jenifer said.
“As a result of this experience, I would like to be a town planner and plan towns on a bigger scale and develop places for community.”
Jenifer says that joining the WfV scheme lifted her career prospects, introduced mentors in her chosen profession and has provided the experience needed to impress future employers, both in local government and the private sector.
For the first time in years, Jenifer – who worked at an architecture firm before coming to Australia to study and work – says she has found a work-life balance.
“Working in a rural city council is really cool. It lets me balance my life and has given me the practical experience and the mentoring I will need for the next phase,” she said.