Yasmin, aged 24, is from a large Moroccan family. Her parents divorced when she was young and at this point, she went to live with her grandparents in Hackney. She came across You Make It when signing on at her local job centre. She’d been signing on there for 5 months, with some part-time hours in a retail job after dropping out of her first year of university. Of her time studying she says, “I was confused, I wasn’t focused, I just didn’t really know what I wanted out of it longer term.”
When the CEO of YMI told her about the programme and the connections it had with arts and cultural organisations – be that for work placements, mentoring or workshops – Yasmin felt excited and reminded of her long and buried passion for drama and the arts. She says: “It sounded like something I’d never experienced before, the arts angle sounded right for me and I found myself feeling not so upset about life anymore.”
One of the most valued aspects of the programme, says Yasmin, “Is that I found all these other women who were just like me, who had some of the same backgrounds, issues, and challenges and so we could all relate to one another.” She adds, “I went to an all-girls school, and so being in an all-women environment where I could talk freely and be confident and open was good for me.”
The programme gave Yasmin a safe and supportive space to think long and hard about what was stopping her from being happy. She, like other women on the programme, recognised that success wasn’t just about having a good job, but was about being happy and content in a rounded way about life. To that end, Yasmin knew that she had to deal with some hard personal issues in tandem with completing the programme, which she felt more capable of doing than ever before.
One of Yasmin’s key goals through YMI was to stop being distracted by retail jobs: “I’d just been jumping from one to another of them.” Instead, she felt motivated and inspired to explore her passion for and interest in teaching drama. Yasmin was matched with her YMI mentor, the artistic director of an internationally recognised arts and cultural venue. Her mentor facilitated Yasmin’s work experience – one at her own place of work in their Education and Learning Department.
A highlight for Yasmin on it was one day working with a group of children who happened to be from her old school: “I bumped into my old drama teacher and she had tears in her eyes when I told her what I was doing there.”
Shortly before graduating from YMI, Yasmin secured herself a paid job in a Walthamstow primary school, coordinating its arts and drama activities. She got it, she says:
“because I learned through YMI to network and put myself out there. I was offered it off the back of some voluntary work in another school I’d started to do while on YMI, something I’d not have done before. I’m sure having the name of my YMI work placement on my CV helped too!”
Yasmin is clear that without You Make It she wouldn’t be where she is now: very busy, happy and focused. Alongside her weekday school job, she enjoys her role as a make-up artist on Sundays for a beauty business, and in the school holidays works for a kids drama company. She’s also just started a Teaching Assistant course online. This is all experience, she says, that she hopes will give her the credibility and knowledge to one day run her own business with a focus on drama and kids.