Trials to triumph

Looking for work can be tough and it's especially hard if you're a young woman without work experience or many qualifications. That's why Young Women's Trust started 'Work It Out', a free telephone coaching service that helps 18-30 year old women to build their confidence, create a plan and move forward into work. So far they've supported almost 200 women like Kerri, who tells her story here:

"Last year was one of the most testing times in my life. I had been out of work for eight months, during which time I applied for over 200 hundred jobs with no feedback. I began to wonder if I would ever secure a job that I so longed for.

I know first-hand the burden long term unemployment can bring, both financially and mentally. I had periods where I felt so disheartened and disengaged I'd just sleep the day away, and tried to hide my unemployment from friends and family.

When I was 20 my mum passed away and I had the job of raising my sister and taking responsibility for the household. The pain of the passing of my mum coupled with the despair of being unemployed was overwhelming. The numerous job applications, expectation and pressure I placed on myself almost made me feel like I couldn't cope.

One of the things I hated most about being unemployed was having to go to the job centre. I felt that after eight months I should have surely been in full time employment by now! I dreaded each visit more and more each time, and had very little support with my job search. Until one routine fortnightly sign on I met two women from 'Work It Out', a free coaching service that supported women aged 18-30 trying to get a job.

I had never heard of a service like this before, and the fact that it free was a no brainer. I signed up and I was contacted by my coach the next evening.

At first I felt a bit apprehensive talking to a stranger and confiding in her about my personal struggles. But she put me at ease, asking me what I would to gain from our sessions and what I would like to talk about.

During this time I was beginning to have some success with my interviews, reaching the final stages even having an interview at number 10 Downing Street. Sadly I didn't get the job, so we tailored our conversations around how to maintain my enthusiasm and controlling nerves before and during interviews.

My coach also helped me to improve my CV, and worked with me to devise a revision time table that meant I could manage priorities between my work and home life. After our sessions I always felt revived and remembered my value and capabilities, this gave me the needed push to continue completing those applications, regardless of the setbacks.

One of the best things about our sessions was the fact that my coach documented what was said through email. So I always have our notes to refer to. She always listened so keenly to what I had to say and paid particular attention to how I felt and my steps moving forward, always working around my availability.

Being unemployed is one of the biggest tests of character, and if any of you ladies are currently unemployed and need that 'pick me up' to remind you how great you are, and how much potential you have, I would definitely recommend you give 'Work It Out' a try.

I finally secured a 12 month apprenticeship in Business and Administration at a FTSE100 company. Although I have since found out that there'll be no opportunity to extend my contract, I'm now looking into courses in community development, with hopes to move into the not for profit sector where I can contribute to making a positive change in society.

Despite all the hardships I've faced and the lack of direction I had for myself last year, I have managed to turn that around. No matter how hopeless the situation may look, keep going - allow yourself to wallow briefly but remain resilient! Seek all the help and opportunities you can get, don't put too much pressure on yourself and remember your value. I was a slow starter, but slow and steady wins the race."

If you're a young woman aged 18-30 and would like free support from a coach over the phone, you can get in touch on 0808 808 8099 (calls are free) or online at youngwomenstrust.org/workitout.
 

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