How I created a fulfilling career in occupational rehab – all while balancing full-time work and study

By Urmila Gokhale

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I joined Konekt Workcare (part of the APM Group) as a Rehabilitation Consultant when I was new to Australia and very new to the occupational rehab industry but had extensive experience working with job seekers or people with ill-health returning to work. 

Soon after joining Konekt, I knew this was where I could see myself long-term, and I was offered the flexibility and encouragement I needed to become formally qualified while I was working. It certainly was a challenge, but with cross credits from previous qualifications, my studies were shortened and I ended up completing a post-graduate course in rehabilitation counselling – all while working full-time! 

While I was studying, I progressed from Senior Consultant to Managing Consultant and after I had finished my course, I moved into a Local Area Manager role. Over the next ten years, I went on to become an Area Manager for predominately New Employer Services in Melbourne while also managing other accounts and Tasmania.

With Konekt, there are always so many career options to consider, so when I was coming up to my ten-year mark with the company, I started thinking about what was next for me. I decided I could do with a change, which led me to a role as Branch Manager at APM. Both my old team at Konekt and my new team have been extremely supportive and made the internal transition quite smooth.

Working with Konekt opened the door to many different experiences

I have had a lot of interesting accounts and experiences over the last ten years. I managed a team in Tasmania, which meant being able to travel to Hobart and Launceston.

I also found it extremely rewarding to work on the NPA (National Panel of Assessors) account. It was a unique experience for me as it was outside the occupational rehabilitation space that I normally worked in. Helping people is what we do and I was able to offer support to a variety of disability employment job seekers and visit different workplaces.

The opportunity to work above and beyond standard rehabilitation services was such a fulfilling experience. I was able to work with Professional Services, which is a counselling service offered to job seekers within APM’s Employment Services. It was both challenging and rewarding to work with job seekers to support and address their barriers to employment.

Embracing change and challenges

Konekt (and APM in general) has such a flexible and supportive culture, so there’s every opportunity to move around (like I did!), or even to come in without much experience and learn on the job.

Right from the start, I’ve really appreciated all the trust and support I’ve received from the business. I was backed by my very first manager as I got my qualification and I don’t think I would have thought about going back to uni, or paying for it out of my own pocket, if the company hadn’t encouraged me and helped significantly with the financial costs.

When you feel valued, there’s a lot of autonomy and freedom to suggest new ideas or to try new things. I feel that is a huge part of what makes us all grow individually and as teams. There’s also a lot of recognition and reward for performance, and a healthy respect for a good work/life balance. Ten years on and I’m very happy where I am! 

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Published on Feb 10, 2022

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