Published: 28 Aug 2017

Work experience the key to confidence

Customers grabbing a coffee and a bite to eat at the Melton Waves Cafe know to expect a smiling face when Taylor, 22, is on duty.

“I always smile, I can’t help it, I must be a happy person!” Taylor said.

She’s the first person to be recruited through Uniting Employment Services and since starting at Melton Waves in January, she has become an irreplaceable employee.

In just eight months, Taylor has developed expertise in many aspects of the business, including gym and pool and office administration, but now she mostly works in the café, where her can-do attitude, keenness and welcoming smile are an absolute asset.

Taylor’s supervisor Jaye Hansford couldn’t agree more.

“She is always, always smiling”, Jaye said.

“She’s happy to handle any task that is given to her and she’s always willing to step up and learn more. The relationships that Taylor has built with her colleagues have given her a lot more confidence in the workplace.”

Through Uniting’s Pathways 2 Employment program, which prepares young adults with disability to enter the workforce, Taylor gained her Certificate I in Work Education and Certificate I in Food Hygiene. She also passed her learner driver test with flying colours and built up extensive work experience at Coles before landing the job at Melton Waves.

It was an exciting day when Taylor received that phone call.

“I was so nervous in the interview and it felt like so long before I heard back, but when I did my family and I celebrated!” she said.

Melton Waves is working with Uniting Employment Services to create an inclusive workplace that reflects the community they work in.

Melton Waves Centre Manager Daniel McShane said he has seen the positivity that has flowed from Taylor’s employment.

“It is fantastic to be able to provide Taylor the opportunity to be part of the workforce,” he said.

“You can see the sense of pride on her face every single time she walks in here to start a shift.”

Taylor says she loves going to work, not just because her café supervisor thinks it important to start a shift with a cup of hot chocolate, but because her colleagues are supportive and friendly.

“I have the perfect people to work with, they all greet me when I walk in and five of us are Facebook friends now,” Taylor said.

“The day I realised that I had become more confident was when a work colleague said to me that I was one of the most helpful staff he’d worked with.”

Taylor has a passion for pop music; it’s not surprising that her favourite artist shares the same name, Taylor Swift.

“For my 21st birthday, my brother and his girlfriend bought me a ticket to her concert. I was all dressed ready to go out when they surprised me and I started balling my eyes out I was so happy!” she said.

Her passion for music is her inspiration to some day work in her favourite store, JB Hi-Fi.

“I love this shop so much; I go there once a week. It’s a place I’d really like to work,” she said.

Vicki Walsh, Community Relations Manager at Uniting Employment Services, said that Pathways 2 Employment provides tailored individual support to school leavers with an intellectual disability to transition from school into their first job.

“Everyone deserves to be in meaningful employment and our primary goal is to support our clients through training and individual work placements to help them realise their employment aspirations,” she said.

Uniting Employment Services provides employment support services which have been helping job seekers who have a permanent disability and who have an assessed need for long-term support in the workplace for over 30 years. We work with a diverse range of job seekers who live with a permanent medical or mental health condition, learning difficulties, injury or disability.