7 March 2024

Volunteer to full timer – Hammad finds post-grad success in a time of uncertainty

| Morgan Kenyon
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Hammad Naqvi, Vinnies Dickson

St Vincent de Paul project officer Hammad Naqvi shares his volunteer story. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

The last half-decade has been one of great changes – not all of them positive. But for one post graduate worried about his future in the wake of bushfires, a pandemic and cost of living crisis, the simple decision to offer his time to charity led to a full-time job in his chosen field, with the people he now calls family.

Hammad Naqvi started his volunteer journey at Vinnies’ Dickson shopfront in late 2019, after graduating from ANU with a degree in project management earlier that year.

After his graduation, Hammad felt disoriented, missing the routine, structure and social atmosphere university gave him.

“All of a sudden I had so much time on my hands and a degree I was proud of, but not sure what I wanted to do with it yet,” he says.

“I knew I wanted to connect with my community and meet a more diverse range of people before diving into the workforce. Volunteering seemed like the best way to do that, so I jumped in as a retail volunteer and gave it my all.”

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By Christmas, Hammad was knee-deep in his role and loving it so much he put his hand up for a Christmas casual position in Vinnies’ Mitchell warehouse.

“Mitchell gave me insight into so many other facets of Vinnies’ work,” he says.

“That’s probably been my favourite thing about working with Vinnies – the diversity I’ve been exposed to. I didn’t get the chance to put myself out there much during study, so it’s been wonderful.

“I’ve also built really genuine, close relationships with people I would have otherwise never met, but are now like my family.”

Hammad Naqvi, Vinnies Dickson

Volunteering led Hammad to the role of a lifetime. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

In 2021, Hammad moved to a management position at Vinnies’ Narrabundah store. A smaller shopfront with a tight-knit community of volunteers and staff, he felt connected in a way he hadn’t yet experienced.

“It was a time of intense change for everybody, especially given the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there was a lot to do,” he says.

“The whole Canberra/Goulburn team really extended themselves across the region to support and protect the vulnerable. I was, and still am, very proud to be part of that.”

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These days Hammad is back at his old stomping ground in Mitchell, this time as project manager, overseeing the warehouse’s redevelopment. While he’s no longer in a customer-facing role, he still gets to connect with Canberrans and their stories, and loves the opportunity to use his degree in a way that helps others.

“Every day is different and each project is unique, but they always involve learning, creativity and a whole lot of problem solving,” he says.

“When you surround yourself with a diverse team, you get to see their skills and your own shine in the most unexpected ways. That leads to a profound sense of fulfilment, both professionally and on a more personal level.

“I feel grateful to have a job in an organisation that allows me to contribute in some small way towards positive change.”

To other recent graduates, or indeed anyone looking to fill their spare time in a way that gives back to their community, Hammad says to give volunteering a go.

“Where you end up might surprise you,” he says.

“I did not believe retail volunteering would lead to working on projects when I first started, but my efforts have landed me the role of a lifetime and helped me create deep, lasting bonds with likeminded people. Yours could too.”

If you would like to get involved, touch base with St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn.

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