Sarah overcame high anxiety and low self-confidence and secured employment at a community law centre

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 is highly intelligent, extremely 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 experiences high anxiety and can become overwhelmed when under high stress – a lot of this stress is due to the high self-expectations that she has.

Sarah’s job search journey

Sarah was referred to Workwise from 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 administration work, to gain recent 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 experience working in a law firm.

Sarah had the skills for the role and had an open attitude to learn, but because of her lack of experience, she received rejection email after rejection email. 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

Some time 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 was a voluntary position. But 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 two days a week with the potential for more hours. She would be working alongside both the lawyers and social worker at the centre.

Sarah was introduced to the team as a legal executive. She corrected the manager, saying she doesn’t have experience. But the manager was very validating of Sarah’s skills and knowledge. Sarah got a really 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 really good. Her team were 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 and whether she was doing a good job, her team reassured and reminded her she was.

Fast forward several months later and dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. 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 are still in contact. But the biggest difference to her wellness has been having meaningful employment and being part of a supportive team.

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons.

 

This was Sarah’s feedback on her journey and the support she received from Workwise:

Oh my goodness, that’s so lovely!

And it’s actually really nice to see the journey down in words.

Thank you so much.

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 have noticed a marked difference in my demeanour. And in addition it has improved my general sense of wellbeing.

It has been of great benefit to me to feel supported going forward too. I feel as though I have solid footing and a safe stepping stone.

Thank you.

Unite against COVID-19 – New Zealand is on Alert Level 1

Workwise is open, with hygiene protocols and contact tracing at our offices. If you have a runny nose, a sore throat or a cough, please do not come in – get tested and self-isolate until you are cleared.