From stuck in a rut to finding work through her network.

Maureen, a lifetime resident of Hackney, first found out about the You Make It programme through her younger sister, who’d been awarded a place on it having met the charity’s CEO at her local job centre. A few weeks into the workshop programme, her sister asked if Maureen could also join the group and the answer was yes. Maureen recalls: “Before I started the course I found myself in such a rut that I could not even see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was once a store manager, but I gave up working to look after my son when my relationship with his father broke down. My sister would come back from these workshops going on about how they were changing her and I knew I needed the same.”

Maureen describes that being out of the workforce for over 3 years made it all the more hard to get her foot back in the door. She says: “I really didn’t want to do the same thing I had previously done because inside I knew I had so many transferable skills I could take to another profession. The one thing I was lacking was the confidence and belief in myself that I could get out there and start again from scratch.”

Asked what her impression was of the first workshop she attended, Maureen says, “It all just hit me like a lightning bolt and jolted my butt into action.” The speaker, Head of Innovation at an International law firm, told of his road to success and like many other people who Maureen would come across as workshop leaders on the programme, she says he emphasized “that life takes you on twists and turns and is like a rollercoaster, but you just never let go, you never give up, you never lose sight of your goals.”

A crucial learning from YMI for Maureen has been that it’s okay and expected for life to diverge from the planned path, “that life isn’t a straight road and that some of the most successful people have hit brick walls, but their mentality has always been to break them down.” Maureen says that without YMI she wouldn’t have been able to break the wall she faced at that low moment in her life: “All you need is for someone who has been there, done it and worn the t-shirt to help you see past obstacles and keep on moving.”

One of the other lessons from YMI for Maureen was around networking. A session led by the HR team of a bank focused on tips to secure jobs. As well as covering tips on CV writing and interview techniques, it highlighted the importance of getting out there, meeting people and telling them about yourself and your ambitions. Immediately after the workshop, Maureen began to spread the word through her social network that she wanted to PA and had an interest in business. It seemed like “fate” to her that shortly after, through a friend of a friend, she secured an interview for and got the job of a PA in an investment company.

Asked to summarise what’s changed for Maureen since completing You Make It, she says: “I’m earning a good wage, and I couldn’t be happier now that I can provide for my family on my own, without any help. This is all because I’ve felt what it is to be genuinely cared for as a woman trying to get my life, with all its twists and turns, back on track.”

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I think YMI is a great opportunity for young women, I encourage as many young unemployed women to get involved and as many corporate organisations to back our cause to help the charity grow! 
Onyinye Iwu, YMI Ambassador