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Project Everest Ventures

  • < 100 employees

Abbey Dyson

A high effort grade is more important than an A+.

What's your job about?

Project Everest Ventures is a social enterprise that contributes to solving world issues through youth empowerment, innovative products and services. As an organisation, we train and facilitate programs that create opportunities for students, like me, to experience work in international development.

I began as an intern working in Timor-Leste on a Recycling Project that contributed to my university studies in Environmental Science and history of work abroad. It was there that I met some of my closest friends, ignited a passion for development and applied for further employment and training in leadership. A year later, and I had completed a Certificate IV in leadership and management, completed further training to be a team, and then senior leader, and spent 3 months overseas supporting projects in agriculture, solar power and biogas fuel.

I now work in my graduate role as the University Engagement Coordinator, nurturing our relationships with academics and students at universities all around Australia and abroad. I have a wonderful team of presenters that I support, and together we speak to students about our experiences, the impact of our work and the internship opportunities available to them at university. I have been so fortunate to experience a variety of different roles within the organisation, and in many diverse settings both overseas and domestically. It has given me a real taste of the industry, and all that is required to ensure the right people are on the ground, contributing and pushing for our projects to succeed.

What's your background?

To me, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ has always felt like an incredibly daunting question. My parents gave me every opportunity to answer it with whatever my heart desired, always reminding me that despite the highly competitive and academic school I attended, 'a high effort grade is more important than an A+'.

With that foundation, I have been free to pursue my passions, from maths and science, to environmental studies and development. I have dabbled, back packed, volunteered, and worked around the world because I had no strict path to follow and no barriers to my desires. I said 'yes' to whatever opportunity presented itself; and I had a safety net at home if things went wrong. With that privilege, there was no reason to not give every opportunity a red-hot go.

One story that I believe really influenced my direction occurred on a hike through the rice fields of Sapa in Vietnam. I was walking alongside our tour guide when we got to chatting, firstly to be polite and then quite quickly it became something more. As the hours passed, we exchanged stories about our lives and confessed our dreams for the future. I talked about finishing university and putting off work until my late thirties to see the world. She talked about her desires to travel the world as I had, and her responsibility to grow the tourism business and make money for the family while her husband worked the fields. My biggest problem was my mounting university assignments. Hers was her aching back, for she had to carry her child with her every day as she toured guests across the mountain villages.
I have reflected on that conversation many times over the years, and what it means that I was so confronted at the time to be comparing our vastly different lives as two nineteen-year-old women.  

Today, I still don’t have an answer to that big question but remembering that conversation in the rice fields puts a lot of my ‘problems’ in perspective.

I believe now that it may indeed be better to not have a career destination, because the challenges of our time are dynamic and ever evolving. I intend to be deep in the fray, fighting for an equal and better world for everyone.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Absolutely, it is peoples differing backgrounds that make our teams strong. When I am working at home, I have academics ask me if our work is suitable for the students they teach. When I am overseas running projects, I have students ask me if they have the right skills to be an effective member of the team. Young people don’t know their own power, and how impactful their raw passion, effort and energy can be. Particularly when moving into leadership positions, we all need reminding to leave our egos ‘at the door’, because our unique style is where we each thrive.
I am a direct and headstrong leader, and I spent far too long trying to be like my quieter, more encouraging counterparts. Yet the times I got the best feedback from people, were when I let all that worry go. I could embrace my strengths rather than fixating on my areas of improvement.
Is it too clique to say, “just be yourself”?

What's the coolest thing about your job?

Watching young people realise their potential. Be it the people that trained to be team leaders by my side, the members of my team or my mentors… we all throw ourselves headfirst into some of the greatest challenges available, and experience exponential growth for our efforts. A member of my team in Fiji found her month as an intern particularly challenging. She had never lived with so many Australian’s in one house, whilst working on a project outside of her area of study, in a foreign country. On top of that, English was her second language.

With a little help from myself and the team, this quiet, shy girl transformed before our eyes. Her growth was obvious, from the tears shed during her first week just at the thought of asking the team to repeat themselves, to (loudly) coordinating the entire house to arrive at events on time. It is so cool to be a part of the moments in people’s lives where they grow beyond their wildest dream.

What are the limitations of your job?

Working overseas is both a gift and a challenge, and for everything you gain you are simultaneously sacrificing. Constantly missing birthdays, weddings, road trips and other quality time with friends and family can make you feel disconnected from your life at home. What’s more is that the relationships you make on the job cannot always come home with you, meaning the two worlds can feel light years apart. I have come to appreciate a balance, and to plan time away and time at home in advance. 

  1. Get amongst it and find your people. Assess your interests and look for others that share them. Societies and clubs create great opportunities to meet amazing people that will likely foster your own growth and development. This is where you will make life-long friends!
  2. Say “Yes”. You have more opportunities at your feet than you know, and now is the time to challenge yourself with a wide variety. It will make specialising later in life a lot easier.
  3. Explore and get credit for it. Universities are practically begging you to take your studies, classes or semesters abroad. There is a lot of financial support available and you may as well use it before you find yourself locked into full time life.