Grace commenced her job search with our Camberwell DES Consultant, Anastasia (Anna) Athans, in early 2020. Grace arrived as a warm, cheerful, and notably kind 21-year-old. Grace also lives with autism and seizures, and she found it challenging to work in groups, stay on task, and understand social cues.
Soon after meeting, Melbourne was in COVID-19 lockdown and Grace and Anna shifted to meeting online to discuss her employment goals, aptitudes, and new pathways into employment.
While Grace’s Certificate III in Hospitality was an asset, the industry was not hiring during the lockdown period, and like many young people during COVID, Grace began to feel disillusioned about her job prospects.
Although it was tough for job seekers to stay engaged with their job search during that time, Anna doubled down on her efforts to remain connected to Grace.
“It was very important that I was ‘an ear’ for Grace…someone who would listen to her and keep her tracking towards her goals.”
Transferring skills to new industries
Anna kept reassuring Grace that her skills were easily transferable to other industries, and they widened their job search to discover other suitable job opportunities.
“Grace is bubbly, a real people-person. I asked her to consider customer service roles because I thought she would enjoy the interaction with other people.”
When Grace was offered an opportunity to join St Vincent’s Hospital as a temperature tester during COVID-19, Anna encouraged Grace to accept the position — Grace could apply her hygiene management skills and get a start with a large employer who would have many more career opportunities in the future.
Finding new opportunities
For the next couple of months, Anna continued to support and encourage Grace in her new job, culminating in preparing her to visit the hospital kitchen to enquire about job opportunities in the food services department.
Grace’s ambition and determination impressed the food services team, and she was offered a role in preparing food and cleaning the kitchen. She soon expanded her role to serving food to patients and was delighted to get their feedback: “This is the best food we’ve ever had.”
Finally, Grace was applying her vocational education in hospitality – and loving it!
“Every bit of feedback she got was building her confidence and self-pride,” says Anna.
Six months later, when medical episodes forced Grace to transition to an administration role within the hospital, Grace turned the setback into an opportunity.
“She started studying medical terminology on the job because she decided to build a long-term career in Health,” beams Anna.
After a year of employment with the hospital in three different roles, Grace commenced full-time work as an Operations Co-ordinator with a radiology company.
Grace continues with ongoing support from Jobfind, but she won’t need it for long.
“Grace is working in a job she loves, is financially independent, and more self-confident. She’s now the person she set out to be,” says Anna.
For more information on Jobfind’s Disability Employment Services, visit: jobfind.com.au/disability-employment/
In the photo: Grace at the Camberwell office