The Positive Action towards Career Engagement (PACE) Mentoring program, run by the Australian Network on Disability (AND), is currently accepting applications from interested students and jobseekers until July 3, 2022.
What is the PACE Mentoring Program?
The PACE Mentoring program is a free national program for students and jobseekers to connect with a mentor in the Australian workplace. The program runs for four months and consists of six to eight sessions running for one to two hours at the mentor’s workplace or online.
The program supports mentees with developing practical employability skills including resume and cover letter writing, interviewing, networking and building confidence in the workplace.
Who is eligible to apply?
The program is open for all students and jobseekers, including international students, who are at least 18 years of age and have:
- A disability
- Mental health condition
- Chronic illness
Meld sat down with PACE Program Coordinator, Tia Kwan, to hear more about the benefits of the program, especially for international students.
As an international student with a disability herself, Tia highly encourages international students to apply. Regional students are also encouraged to apply, as virtual mentoring sessions can be organised with mentors.
Q: What employability skills can mentees gain through the program?
From a general perspective, students can expect to develop resume writing, cover letter writing and interview skills. They can also learn about communication skills in a professional setting and simply how to engage in small talk. I think a lot of students struggle with small talk (I struggled with it too when I was a student!). They can also learn about email and conversation etiquette, how to organise meetings and set agendas.
We have a lot of mentees who have limited work experience or knowledge of what office settings are like. This is why we encourage face-to-face mentoring, as the mentor may arrange office tours to show the mentee around. Many mentors have also organised for mentees to meet HR staff members. The program helps promote connections, where the mentor provides guidance to help navigate the daunting job-seeking journey.
Q: How can international students benefit from the program?
This program helps international students learn about workplace culture and businesses in the Australian context. The issue is that a lot of international students struggle with building relationships and connections with Australians. Connecting with a mentor who is a professional in the Australian workforce can be a stepping stone to expanding professional networks in Australia. All our mentors work for leading businesses and organisations in Australia, and are all very well connected to the corporate world. Especially being an international student in a foreign country, you often want to have a mentor to guide and direct you.
Understanding workplace culture is very interesting. As international students, I think we all experience cultural shocks. This can arise in our daily interactions, work and in the office. Even though international students may have some work experience in their home countries, they may still find it very different in Australia and can learn a lot about the Australian workplace context from mentors.
Q: How can the program help with talking about disability?
As an international student with a disability myself, the main concern during job hunting is how to tell someone you are a person with a disability. My disability is invisible and in fact, a lot of people have disabilities that are invisible. The struggle is often how to disclose this during the recruitment process.
The program allows students to learn that it’s your right to choose whether or not you disclose your disability information. That’s why we don’t pass on disability information to the workplace, we only pass on workplace adjustment details to them such as the need for flexible working hours or regular breaks. It’s always good for mentors and organisations to learn that you don’t actually have to know of someone’s disability to provide support.
Applications for the PACE Mentoring Program will close this Sunday.
AND’s employability resources, including cover letter templates can be found here.