My name is Oday. I was born in Iraq. I studied mechanical engineering at the University of Baghdad and went on to do further studies in computer science.We had an established family business
in Baghdad, a high tech company - one of the first to be involved in computer networking. We installed many important systems in Iraq, including for the Ministry of Interior Affairs. I was one of few who knew how to install fibre optics networks, which I did for the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.
When the latest Iraq war started, the circumstances were such that I was compelled to leave Iraq. I left for Jordan in 2006, where I worked as a free lancer and gained an international certificate in IT (CISCO/Microsoft). After a year I had had a decent, permanent job in my speciality, but I was considered as a second degree citizen and in 2009 I came to UK as a refugee.
I came holding my higher education degree plus ten years experience in the IT field. I was shocked when I realised that finding a job here in UK is almost mission impossible. I knew I shouldn’t have gaps in my CV so I started to seek voluntary work in my field. It was not easy to find. Private IT companies don’t welcome volunteering.
Finally I came to the Volunteer Centre. James offered me a volunteering opportunity with VAS, tutoring for the ‘My Guide to Computing’ training programme. I started immediately. Then James referred me to another organisation, the Heeley Development Trust, and I worked there as a volunteer too. I volunteered four days a week. Then, after a year, Heeley Development Trust advertised a part-time job. I applied and got the job. I am now working for the Trust three days a week.
Working as a volunteer was very helpful for me for many reasons. I had a chance to develop my skills. I had experience of working in a different environment. I had the chance to develop my networking skills: to make new friends and develop contacts. I felt a real satisfaction contributing to something worthwhile. And I added to my CV.
I really enjoy my job even though I am only part-time. I feel more energy and great passion when I do my work. It gives me a lot of pleasure to do the work well. That’s what I enjoy. And eventually I will find a full-time job where I can use all my skills.
Do you want to volunteer? You can: