Monika Mladenovic lands her dream job

How a level-headed approach and a natural way with kids helped a Year 12 student from Cecil Hills High School get a full-time job.

02 December 2020
Barely a week after Monika Mladenovic completed her final HSC exam she walked through the front door of Teddy’s Little Treasures, an early childhood centre in Green Valley near Liverpool, and into her first full-time job. It’s an amazing achievement by any measure, and one that seems all the more impressive when you consider the chaos that COVID-19 unleashed on the childcare and training sectors earlier in the year.
Image: From left: Monika with employer Kathy

“I had to take three months off because of COVID,” says Monika when we catch up over her lunch break.

In April 2019, Monika started a School Based Traineeship in Early Childhood Education. Almost a year to the day later, COVID-19 would force Monika to put the work component of her traineeship, which she was completing at Teddy’s Little Treasures, on hold. It was a move that could have delayed the completion of her traineeship, if not derailed it entirely.

“When the Premier announced that parents should keep their kids home from school, a lot of our parents decided to keep their children home from care,” recalls Cathy Hustler, the owner of Teddy’s Little Treasures and an early childhood educator with 20 years’ experience in the field.

“There was one Wednesday when we had three children here, and our highest enrolment during that period was six kids.”

It was a tough time for the childcare sector. The staff at Teddy’s Little Treasures, like many other childcare workers across NSW, took reduced hours to help keep the business afloat during the first few months of the pandemic. It was also a challenging period for Monika.

“I had to catch up on the days I missed that are a requirement of the traineeship,” says Monika, recalling the juggling act she had to perform.

“It definitely required a bit of time-management, but I was able to do some of my catch-up work on days that school finished early.”

In the end, Monika was able to satisfy the work requirements of the traineeship and get back on track thanks to her flexibility and excellent time-management abilities. Her maturity played a big part in her success, too.

Svetlana Kuzmar, a Traineeship Coordinator & Careers Adviser at Australian Careers Business College, has seen a lot students pass through her training programs in the 20 years she’s been working with Cecil Hills High School, Monika’s alma mater. But she hasn’t seen too many students who possess Monika’s humility, level headedness and dedication.

“Monika is amazing; she is a very mature young lady,” says Svetlana.

“We provide students with an assessment schedule and Monika was always able to meet those deadlines. Even through COVID, she just did not falter, and was able to catch up on the days she missed and complete all her assessments.”

Maturity and work ethic aside, Monika possesses another quality that ultimately convinced Cathy to offer her a job at her childcare centre.

“The children responded really well to her, so I thought ‘that’s something to watch,’” says Cathy, thinking back to the first few days of Monika’s work placement.

As it turns out, Monika’s a natural. According to Cathy, Monika has an intrinsic nurturing quality that allows her to communicate well with the children.

“I’ve seen other trainees become quite nervous around the children, but Monika just has a natural rapport with them.”

Interestingly, while Monika has always known that she’d like to work with children in some capacity, it was her Year 10 work experience that confirmed the direction she’d like to head in. Monika did two one-week work experience placements, one at a primary school and another at Teddy’s.

“I did my second placement at Teddy’s and I realised that I enjoyed working with the younger children more. I feel really drawn to them, and I love being able to explain things and teach them.”

Fortunately for Monika—and for the children at Teddy’s Little Treasures—she’s now in a position where she can do just that.


Interested in doing a School Based Traineeship in Early Childhood Education?

Speak to your Careers Adviser.

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