Jenny has been a part of Holdsworth for almost a decade. She first joined as a placement student and is now the Project Officer of Team Maroubra. We sat down recently to listen to her story.
What made you choose to work in community services?
Before I came to Australia, I worked in real estate and sold men’s clothes online and in a little shop, during the internet boom. In this line of work, everyone would always talk about money. I realised this wasn’t what drove me. It was a good experience, but the passion for the work wasn’t there.
When I first arrived in Sydney, I was doing all sorts of jobs—cleaning, working in a supermarket and food delivery. I had to start thinking about what kind of work I liked. I was always drawn to the community sector. It could be a family thing. My mum and grandmother work in similar roles. I enjoy working with people and have a sense of justice. That’s when I decided to study for a Diploma of Community Services.
When did you first hear about Holdsworth?
I needed to find my own placement at TAFE. My classmate suggested Holdsworth since she worked there. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I had only moved to Sydney from China less than two years before. We don’t really have well-known community services like Holdsworth back home. After looking at the website, I knew it’d be a good place to learn since we had so many services. I came to Holdsworth without any expectations and took everything in.
How was your placement experience at Holdsworth?
The process happened quickly and I got started straight away. I was super nervous on my first day, but everyone was super friendly. The team seemed really close too. I started working in the social groups for older people. We got onto the bus and went to different places in Sydney. I loved it. The team made me feel comfortable. They never threw me into the job and always checked in on me.
Later on, I started volunteering on Saturdays with the NDIS group too, which was a totally new experience. When I first started out in social groups, I wasn’t confident in speaking to people. As I got more confident, it was really fun working with the team and learning to speak with different people.
You had a lot to manage from language barriers to adjusting to working in a new industry. Did you experience any challenges along the way?
It might be a cultural thing, but I came in thinking I needed to know everything. I always had anxiety about not understanding, especially with the language barrier. I felt scared of asking questions. The team were really welcoming of questions and they never made me feel silly. There was always someone I could speak to if I needed help.
How did you end up working at Holdsworth?
Holdsworth offered me a position as a casual support worker after my placement. As an international student on placement, that’s the best thing I could’ve heard! I didn’t have to do the other random jobs anymore and could focus on what I was passionate about. Now I’ve been with Holdsworth for almost 10 years.
What have you learned from your Holdsworth experience?
The job is never about you delivering a service, it goes beyond that. It’s about building a relationship with an individual. Make an effort in getting to know each person, their special character, personality and beautiful story. I still remember all the people I’ve met over the years, even if it was briefly. Every phone call you make; every person you meet—the connection will last as long as you’re around.
What advice would you share with students looking for placement?
Working in the field helped me understand and experience what I was learning from my course. Take your role seriously, you’re not just a volunteer at Holdsworth. The more you put in, the more you can get out of the role.
We have so many amazing volunteers that go above and beyond. I came into Holdsworth thinking I was meant to stick to what I knew or what I ‘should’ do. They showed me it’s important to truly be yourself and bring yourself fully in the role, you will always be supported. Collaboration is like gold.