In sharing their stories of their careers, many people talked about the role of family in their journeys.
While everyone placed importance on helping or caring for family members, some people also talked about the balancing act between focusing on individual goals and supporting family.
However, navigating family and work may also lead to new and interesting career opportunities, as one person in this video discovered.
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I obviously thought, “Well, my Mum’s in Melbourne. Maybe there’s some way I can kind of transfer to Melbourne and still work for the company.” But maybe I had heard, it was better to work for them here than it was to work for them in New Zealand.
So I kind of started the process of moving over, and then I got the job and they were like, “Yes, we’ve got a job.” So I obviously had to approach my grandma about it. And I was like, “Look, this is what’s going to happen.” And my auntie was instantly, “Oh, you know what, well then we need to put her in a home because I’m not taking care of her.” And then I was like, “No, no, no, I’m saying I’m taking her with me.” And then my grandma’s like, “No, just put me in a home. That’s fine.” But I could tell it wasn’t fine because she’s telling me and she’s crying. I’m like, “Of course, I’m not going to put you in a home. You’re going to come with me.”
So I did, I brought my grandma with me. So it was just her and I that lived together. So she lasted, I think, six years, which was good. She’d had a good life here. And then things kind of just…near the end, I had to leave work because of her. But not because of her, I wanted to. But my job at the time wasn’t being very flexible. My grandma was getting more and more sick.
I didn’t get any benefits for caring for her at the time. So I started to work full time but also care for her as well, which was a struggle. So near the end, I ended up having to leave and it was scary because I still hadn’t really had built like a friend base. So when I left, how was I going to push this business?
So before I left, I had already kind of told all my regular clients, “This is what’s going to happen. I’m going to leave dah, dah, dah. This is my number.” And so, I had built like a good month’s worth of business before I had left. Then I thought, “Oh, this is going to pick up. This is going to be fine.” I got to the last weekend. It literally, was my last bridal party, there was 10 of them, and I had nothing after that, absolutely nothing. I was stressing. I was like, “What am I going to do? That’s it, I’ll probably have enough money to keep us going for like two or three weeks. And that’s it.” Because I wasn’t really saving at the time because I was still building.
And so, I pretty much just did this job. And then the mum of the bride randomly enough, she was like, “You’re worried about your business.” It was weird because she, obviously didn’t know me. She just came up to me. She taps me on the shoulder. She’s like, “You’re worried about your business. I just want you to know, you don’t have to worry because you’ll be fine.” And I just started bawling my eyes out because I needed to hear it. Because like I said, I was stressed. I had my grandma who wasn’t well, obviously we had bills to pay, I just didn’t know what I was going to do.
And then she gave me a big hug and she said, “From now on your phone will not stop ringing because,” she was like, “God will look after you.” And then, that was it. I’m not even joking. Probably, like two days later I started getting an influx. I’d never had that the whole month that I was working, I didn’t have any bookings come through in that month that I had kind of booked myself out for. So for it to start maybe like a day or two after this lady talked to me, it was really, really, really crazy to me that it just started, well, that was it.
I just left everything and went back to Solomons. I went back there and I thought, “Well while I’m here, I’ll work for the business, but I’ll also try and do something for me as well.” Because although as an Islander you just want to give back to your family and help them out, but I was also feeling really different too because I wanted to take on an internship with an NGO over there to help build my resume a little bit. But I felt really guilty because I was just constantly thinking in my mind like, “Oh, but aren’t you going to uni so you can help your family? Isn’t that the end goal? If you’re here helping your family, why are you doing this internship that’s taking away your time from your family.”
It was a huge process of just reflecting on what it means to be like an Islander. What does it mean to be successful? What is your purpose and is it okay to stray off and do your own thing? It was a lot.
We came back to Robinvale, and then we realised, because we’ve opened up that gate in our hearts, of being able to go somewhere or leave, to just pick up and leave, when we came back to Robinvale, and came back home, it just felt like we’ve just gone back into this little cage, and then we felt that this is not for us, we need to go.
And so we decide we’d move to Melbourne and we literally didn’t plan for anything. It was just a straight pickup and go.
Call my aunty, “Yeah, we’re coming over. There’s five of us that’s going to be over there.” And my aunty being the way she is, and at that time she just opened up her door. And that’s a typical aunty. Obviously, Island community knows that, that family. They just drop everything and say, “Yeah, come.”
And so we did that. We moved over there and then the hunt work started. I was actually looking for work for five months and I was at a point where I was like, ” Man…” And to give you scope on things, that was my first time in the city married and looking for work. I was like, “Oh my goodness.” It was no longer easy finding jobs because in the farm world in Robinvale, you can find work. It’s pretty easy. A lot of farmers offer so much work. But then going into the city, and now you’ve got this thing that they started, I learned really quickly, called a resume. You don’t see that kind of stuff in the farming aspect.
I had to do a resume, which totally didn’t know that or understood that. I had to do interviews. So the pressure, took us long to just try to find work. And it was only until probably five months later I kind of scored a job because of my previous experience in the sales. Working down through that sales job, I was able to obtain a few things and learn a few things.
And in that job there, that was first time I started to climb up into senior management and I realised that I was cut out for it. It was amazing. I could have been there for long enough, but I was only there for probably two years. And then my mother-in-law fell sick. So, obviously, there was a big change of events and I had moved back home back to Robinvale. The thing that I learned there was that events do and can change your life.
And then when I came back to Robinvale, my perspective changed again and I’d no longer seen working on the farm as something as a dirty job, it’s pointless, you’re not going to make anything, or it’s just going to be the same repetitive thing over and over. When I came back to Robinvale, I realised there is so much potential.
Growing up and working as a teenager, and then working, being married as a young couple, and then going away and experience what you’ve experienced, and then coming back to the same job that you did, I realised that it was there all along. It was your mentality, it’s your perspective, it’s how you see things. And then I realised, man, if I changed my perspective 10 years ago or when I started in…I’m in the almond industry right now, and if I changed my perspective to that day or that time, maybe by now, I would probably be where I am right now. Like in senior management or senior role, and it would not have taken all this time to realise that.
And so, just thinking too, you know how we have in our cultures, there’s all those obligations, family obligations, church obligations, how do you guys balance your business requirements with family expectations?
Yes, I did struggle with that at first. Only because, again, my mindset wasn’t strong. I didn’t know how to say no. I just didn’t know how to tell them the price. And sometimes I’m really happy that we actually have a really good family, my family don’t want stuff for free, we’re more like fighting over paying. But there was a point where, because it was my fault, I never told them from the beginning like, “Oh, cuz, I have to charge you this.” Then if they wanted to…or friends, because my friends become my family too. So, even my friends and family, if they wanted to book in at my busiest time, like six or something on a Thursday, I’m like, ‘Well, I’ve been doing their lashes for free now. Now it’s bloody awkward. I can’t tell them that they have to pay.’ But if you set those boundaries in the beginning, then you won’t have to have this awkward conversation.
Like when you’re coming out the first time, you have to come out strong and already like you’re successful. You need to post like you’ve already made it, because when you’re posting like that, then you give your family or your friends the impression that, ‘Oh, they’re just starting, so they need models or experience.’ But that’s actually the worst thing to do because then it becomes awkward for both of you. Even for me with my family and my friends, when they want to pay me, I’m like, “No, don’t, don’t.” But I teach my students not to do that, because I already know what it feels like, and any businesses that I deal with, I’m like, “You have to charge. You have to charge.” Because now that we’re doing…well, we’re not really doing lashes, I actually don’t mind doing my family’s lashes for free. Now they’re trying to say, “I need to pay you.” And I’m like, “No. Forget about it. I’m all good.”
But when you first start, yes, you need to put those boundaries in first so that you won’t have that awkward conversation. If you got it in then they’ll know, “Oh, I can’t even afford to go there. That’s awkward. I’ll just wait until I can afford it.”
It all starts with you and it ends with you. If you let your family and your friends do that, it’s your fault.
You teach people how to treat you.
Yeah. You teach people how to treat you. I think, because us Islanders as well, we’re very giving, so when it comes to making money, it’s foreign to us, because we’re always working hard and we’re always giving, we’re always serving. Then when it’s time for us to make money and stuff like that, it’s really hard. It’s really hard for us to accept that as well.
Support during primary and high school
- Peers and friends as a source of support at school
- Support from parents during schooling (Part 1 & Part 2)
- Support from teachers and schools
- Transition from school to post-school education (Part 1 & Part 2)
Experiences of post-secondary education and training
- Experiences of university
- University journeys: Interruptions and finding one’s direction
- Diverse pathways towards university
- Experiences of TAFE
- Short courses and on-the-job training
- Early aspirations and current occupation
- Talking about future aspirations with family members
- Networks of family and friends
- Be proactive and seize unexpected opportunities
- Creating opportunities: Volunteering
Experiences of Work
- Benefits of being a Pacific Islander at work
- Engaging with Pacific community members through work (Part 1 & Part 2)
- Navigating family and career
- Future aspirations
Reflections and advice to young Pacific People
- ‘Akesa – Community Facilitator
- Ama – Lashing Business Administrator & Marketing Coach
- Annie – International & Community Development Specialist
- Ashirah – University student
- Cass – English Teacher, Writer, Project Manager, & President of the Victorian Kiribati Association
- Chris – Field Officer (HR)
- Christopher – Carpenter & Stonemason
- Crofton – Visual Effects & Animation Specialist
- David – App company CEO
- Elisabeth – Teacher
- Elvina – Building Services Mechanical Engineer
- Fipe – Cacao Products Manufacturing Business Owner
- Grace – Airline Customer Service Agent
- Leki – Physiotherapist
- Luisa – Registered Nurse
- Malelega – Legal Assistant
- Marita – Writer
- Rose – Workplace Consultant
- Sefita – Community Engagement Officer
- Semisi – Lawyer
- Talei – Lawyer & Community Engagement + Government Relations Consultant
- Teisa – Medical Doctor
- Tevita – IT Professional
- Thom – Make-up Artist
- Venna – Lashing Business Owner & Trainer