Guest blogger Damien Distill - ‘My MINT Journey’

2014-11-25 09:04:03 | Uncategorized

Today we have a post written by Damien Distill, who joined MINT just over a year ago and is now happily working. This is a great way to see what it’s like when you join MINT and how we can help you. If you’re thinking of joining MINT or are in the process of applying, please let us know if you have any questions along the way.


My MINT Journey

My MINT Journey began in September 2013 after being referred by the Job Centre. It had been over a year since I had graduated from University and although I did not know much about MINT at the time, I was interested to find out how they could help me take the steps back into employment.

I went to my first meeting with Shelagh and Astra (who would later become my Employment Job Coach) and at the time even attending this was a struggle for myself. However soon enough I was feeling reassured. In the meeting we discussed, amongst other things, what area of work I would like to get into and the steps that could be made towards getting there. I felt an immediate boost of confidence and weight off my shoulders as I knew I would have more support and someone ‘in my corner’ in my job search. I remember telling my family as I got home that day, I knew with MINT I would gain employment soon enough!

One of the steps we discussed at the meeting was getting some work experience to build my confidence and increase my skills and experience whilst adding something recent onto my CV. It wasn’t long before I was getting a call from Astra who had found me a placement at City College Norwich in the Secretariat office – ideal for me as I was interested in working in an admin role!

We would start from one day a week and build from there, as and when I felt ready. My Job Coach Astra would be there for my first couple of days supporting me with job coaching and I found this to be very helpful. At first even getting into the building at the College was a challenge for me – and even when I was able to go into work unassisted, I needed some help with this. For example, I would need to meet outside, or speak on the phone before I felt ok to go in by myself.

As my confidence grew we increased my hours up to 2 days of work experience at the College, and also we found another work experience placement at Royal Norwich Golf Club for one day a week. I found this placement very useful as it gave me another experience of working in a completely new working environment and it was very insightful to be able to compare the two.

Time went by and I was enjoying working at both the College and RNGC, and during this time I was still looking for paid employment. One of my more desired jobs was in the accounting sector, and after putting in lots of applications, fine tuning my CV and the applications themselves (again with support from MINT) I gained two interviews in very short succession of each other – both accounting roles!

Interviews are something I really struggle with, but again, I knew the support was there if I needed it. We practiced various things including identifying possible questions which would come up and how these could be answered. I also attended a mock interview at MINT which I found very useful in terms of learning what I was already doing well and what I could improve on. The two interviews came, and although I felt the usual feelings of dread and nerves, it wasn’t as strong, and I felt I could actually face the interview process, where previously I have been unable to.

Overall I think I performed really well in one of the interviews and struggled with the second, but I felt confident that I had done myself justice having given the very best I could. Although I wasn’t successful in getting these roles, I felt very confident going forward, and learned some vital lessons during this process.

Things were soon to look up as it wasn’t long before I had a phone call to say that an exciting opportunity had come up. There was a huge opportunity and challenge for me to begin paid employment at the College working as an Admin Assistant with the “14-16 Team”. I would start with 12 hours a week, and would be able to transfer all I had learned during work experience to this new role. The transition was helped as I was able to stay in the same office as I had been working in on my work experience placement.

In my role at the College I have had quite a varied range of tasks from daily attendance monitoring to helping to arrange an end of year festival for the students. In September of this year after a summer off I have continued to make progress within my role, increasing to 20 hours over 4 days a week and have also since enrolled onto an AAT accounting course at the College which I study on the remaining day of the week.

It has been over a year now since my first meeting and I can look back at how these steps of progress have led to a massive change in my life. It is these gradual steps which have helped my MINT journey be so successful, as after each one I felt more confident, and could look back at how far I had come (as I am doing now)! I could not have envisioned at the time the progress I would make over the course of a year.

Written by Damien Distill


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