Profile: Nargis

We spoke to Nargis who recently finished up her internship with the Commission through the VPSC Refugee and Asylum Seeker Internship Program.

Sunday, 6 March 2022 at 10:00 pm

What are you studying?

I’m currently in my fourth year of a Bachelor of Law and Arts majoring in Criminology at Swinburne University of Technology.

What made you interested in gender equality?

As a woman, being interested in gender equality is just something that comes to us naturally. It’s not even a question of whether you’re interested in it, it’s just a question of, how much do you want to see change and how much do you want to be a part of change? And before coming here I knew I wanted to see change, but I didn’t know how to get involved or how change happens. In this experience I’ve learned it’s mostly through policymaking. It’s something I want to be doing after I graduate as well.

What type of work did you do during your internship?

I was mostly involved in the Reporting and Insights team – this involved contacting defined entity CEOs to get their delegation evidence before audit data submission, reporting platform maintenance, keeping track of the organisations that had submitted their data and keeping SharePoint lists up to date. I was also involved in compliance checking of the workplace gender audit data and supporting defined entities with reporting platform user queries. Aside from all of this I also had some objectives of my own, which consisted of things like getting to know the organisation, my team and their roles, developing professional and public speaking skills and thinking about my own career path post-graduation. I also chaired a commission meeting and presented on my internship.

What was the biggest challenge for you during your internship, and how did you overcome that?

The biggest challenge for me was probably working from home and not getting that full experience that I had hoped for, like meeting people and being in the office. I also had this feeling of not measuring up to my colleagues and the work they do, and sometimes asked myself ‘what am I doing here’? But one day I talked to my colleague Simon during a coffee catch up and I told him how I felt, and he said I could think of it as an opportunity to learn. He told me “if you ever feel like the smartest person in the room, you’re probably not in the right room. You should always look for opportunities to learn, and what better opportunity to learn than when you’re in a room with smart people?” I’ve never looked at it that way before, and after that, every time I felt like that, I reminded myself, 'okay, time for me to learn from them'.

Would you recommend an internship to others? What would you say to them?

100%. If anyone has the opportunity to join this team they should do it. It’s such a great learning experience to see what a positive work environment looks like and how a great team works together. For me, it opened my eyes to a whole new world, because every time I thought about the workplaces I’ve been in, the people dreaded going to work and weren’t supportive, so I thought – work is the worst! But getting to see that not every workplace is like that and there are places that are great to be a part of and teams that are actually supportive, it was such a different lens.

Can you talk about coming to Australia and your experience as a refugee?

Yeah definitely – coming to Australia my dad pretty much took the sacrifice on that one. He did the hard bit, he left to come here a few months after I was born, and the next time he saw us when he came back the newborn daughter he had left behind was now in the second grade reciting him a poem at the airport! So he pretty much made the biggest sacrifices, he sponsored us in 2012. But for me personally, the hardest part about being a refugee, the thing I struggle with, is the inability to fit in sometimes. This lack of a sense of belonging, you don’t belong anywhere, like I personally feel I can’t say I’m an Aussie, even though I’m Afghan I was born in Pakistan and I was raised there before I came here so I can’t say I’m Pakistani. People in Afghanistan probably wouldn’t accept me as like, you know, being a full Afghan either. And it’s just like this thing where you sometimes don’t know where you belong, like who am I? That’s probably the thing I struggle with the most.

Is there anything else you want to add?

I just want to add it’s been such an incredible experience for me, and I want to thank the Commission team and the people at Career Seekers.

To read more about the program visit: