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Sarah's Story

Sarah overcame her anxiety and low self-confidence and secured the job that she was looking for at a community law centre. A Workwise employment consultant shares about Sarah’s employment journey.

Sarah’s employment consultant shares about her employment journey.

When I met Sarah*, I got the impression she was a highly-motivated, determined and diligent woman with a heart for supporting others and advocating on their behalf.

She was in the process of completing the last paper of a Diploma in Legal Studies, with plans to become a legal executive.

Sarah’s background was in retail and administration. She wanted a change of career that gave her purpose, so she decided to combine further education as a legal executive with her family commitments as a mother-of-two.

Sarah was highly-intelligent, extremely well-organised and empathetic. Her only barrier was a lack of confidence in herself, with extremely high self-expectations – she was very hard on herself.

Sarah experienced high anxiety and could become overwhelmed when under high stress – a lot of this stress was due to the high self-expectations that she had.

The job search journey

Sarah was referred to Workwise by Community Mental Health so that she could get support to find relevant employment in a legal environment.

Sarah and I worked on her CV and targeted businesses to approach. Sarah even opened up her options to look at reception or administrative work, to gain office experience. The job search journey was a challenge for Sarah, as the job market for a legal receptionist or legal executive was extremely competitive and the law firms preferred people with prior experience.

Sarah had the skills for the role and had an open attitude to learn, but because of her lack of experience, she received numerous rejection emails. This started to take a toll on her confidence and motivation, so we explored voluntary work as an option.

I contacted the local Community Law Centre to enquire about voluntary work opportunities. Unfortunately, they did not have anything available at the time but agreed to keep Sarah in mind. Several months of job search and more application rejections passed by and Sarah was beginning to lose hope.

An exciting opportunity

Sometime later, I received a call from the Community Law Centre asking if Sarah was still looking for work. They wanted to know whether she would be interested in working for them and if she would like to meet with the manager that week.

When I told Sarah about the opportunity, we were both over the moon. At this stage, we thought it would be a voluntary position. The opportunity would give Sarah experience working for a law firm and a recent work reference.

Sarah attended the interview and called me straight after to tell me how it went. The position was a paid one as a receptionist, working two days a week with the potential for more hours. She would be working alongside both the lawyers and social workers at the centre.

Sarah was introduced to the team as a legal executive. She corrected the manager, saying that she didn’t have any experience. However, the manager was very validating of Sarah’s skills and knowledge. Sarah received a positive impression of the work environment and the team. To her delight, she was offered the role, to commence the following week.

A valued member of the team

I checked in with Sarah two weeks into the role and she sounded like she was doing well. Her team was extremely supportive of each other, all while maintaining professionalism in the workplace. Sarah felt like a valued member of the team.

Although she had her own insecurities and doubts about how she was settling into the job, her team reassured and reminded her that she was doing a good job.

Several months later we were dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak and it is obviously a stressful time for a lot of people.

The Community Law Centre is even busier than usual trying to support people with beneficiary and employment queries. But despite all the stress, Sarah is in a really good place with her mental health. She is still receiving psychology support and Workwise is still in contact. But the biggest difference to her wellness has been having meaningful employment and being part of a supportive team.

Sarah’s feedback on the support she received from Workwise:

“You supported me and motivated me. You challenged me despite my negative mindset at times. You helped present things in such a positive way that spurred me on to keep trying.”

“I hadn’t realised how much not having employment really affected me until I became employed again. My family has noticed a marked difference in my demeanor. And in addition, it has improved my general sense of wellbeing.”

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons.

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