One of our participants Sally has recently outlined how we have helped them to achieve their goals. Here’s what she had to say…

What difficulties and barriers did you face before you engaged with PATH Yorkshire?

The biggest difficulty that I had was being overqualified for the jobs I was applying to. I have a PHD, but I have not been able to find a permanent post in academia, having 8 years’ experience of lecturing on a zero hours contract. I relocated to Leeds for family reasons and I was still lecturing part time in Derbyshire. In the meantime, I was looking at administration jobs but I did not have the experience and qualifications to get a job or regular interviews in that area. In Leeds, I started volunteering at ST Vincent’s Support Centre as Administration Assistant and Migrant Support Worker. I must admit that at that stage I was not aware of PATH. After one and a half years, I was told of the opportunity to apply for a six months placement as Migrant Support Worker, which was open to existing volunteers. I successfully applied and was offered the placement after a very good interview. During the application process, I became aware that the placement was part of the wider STEP/SECOND Chance project of which Path Yorkshire. was part, a project which was in turn funded partly by the European Union and partly by Leeds City Council. To my knowledge, I was part of possibly the first STEP group in Leeds; of the eight people who were inducted at Aspire-Igen I was the only one who already had a placement, and one of two or three that. had not been referred to Path via a Job Centre. To answer this question, I have to say that it was not me who came to PATH; it was PATH that, as it were, ‘came to me’. I am very grateful for this, because for the first time I felt that there was someone (from the point of view of my professional career) on my side, an organisation and people that had knowledge of the working environment and would help me through a process rather than simply as a one-off career advice appointment. Unlike my previous experience with employment agencies, which promised greatly but delivered little, I finally had found an organisation which had my career progression at heart. In other words, I felt that I was no longer constantly fighting on my own against a series of circumstances.

How has PATH helped you?

I cannot speaker highly enough of the support, help and advice which I am receiving from Path.  I have regular one-to-one sessions with my adviser, which have been incredibly useful both during my placement and currently as I am applying for jobs in the administration and the third/charity sectors. My adviser has always given me excellent suggestions, endless positivity and a great deal of patience. She has been helping me to acquire different time management techniques, and given me suggestions on how to manage my stress levels when working under pressure. She has reinforced the idea of looking closely at the role description of any new post, customising the application not only to the person specification but also the job description. In particular, she has been assisting me in preparing for interviews by devising a set of questions that I may be asked. This proved to be extremely accurate as I discovered during my first interview. To date, I have had four interviews, and although I have not found a job, I am much more confident that by following Path’s advice I will get employment.

During my placement I received advice on how to prioritise, and learn how not to commit to too many extra duties beyond the scope of my role description. This is to enable me to carry out my duties to best of my abilities rather than let my enthusiasm take over in agreeing to take on too many other tasks. In addition, PATH has offered training in maths; I considered this, but it would have effectively taken the entirety of the five training hours per. week, I decided to prioritise training for LEVEL 1 OISC IMMIGRATION advice in view of a possible career as Support/ Advice worker in organisations similar to ST Vincent’s. PATH has also offered Level 3 First Aid training which I successfully passed obtaining a certificate.

How have PATH assisted your development?

The main aspect that Path, and in particular my adviser worked on was my confidence; after many disappointments in the past, I had more or less given up trying to find paid employment. I was aware that having a PhD meant that I had skills, however I had not been able to see how I could transfer those skills across a different type of job. Now that I am at the end of my placements, I have not only acquired more recent experience in a paid positing which is other than academic, but and most importantly I believe that I can obtain a job; PATH has shown me that I need to believe in my skills, and most of all in myself. My knowledge of the charity sector has improved as a result of this placement, which has been very successful. My colleagues have been very supportive, I have learnt how to work in a busy office environment (which I had only experienced briefly in the past and never in a British context). I got dry positive feedback from my line manager, none of which would have happened without PATH.

Thank you for your feedback, Sally!