“Courage, determination, and goal setting are three important essentials in moving forward,” shares Sharyn from Australia, whose hard work and perseverance in job searching have certainly paid off.
As a result of a diving accident, Sharyn has a C6/7 spinal injury. She was in Year 9 at that time. She had to re-evaluate her ambition of joining the Air Force, so she chose to focus on completing her Year 12 studies before deciding the next step to take in her career.
And she did. Upon completion of Year 12, Sharyn successfully enrolled into university, but various circumstances saw to Sharyn not completing her tertiary education. With that, Sharyn set up new objectives for her future:
“Essentially the main goal that I set for myself was to move out of home and get a job that paid well enough so that I could eventually buy a house.”
She acknowledged the challenge of her disability and her academic qualifications. At that time, she could not independently transfer in and out of her car as well. Another challenge she faced was her self-confidence. “My employment prospects were limited,” Sharyn says.
But Sharyn this didn't deter her from achieving her dreams. Living in a small country town, there was limited employment options for Sharyn. “So I decided to volunteer my services at the local community centre [instead],” she shares, and this helped her develop skills and gain hands-on experience in the working world. She did reception and customer services, and over time, her confidence grew.
Besides volunteering at the community centre, Sharyn completed various courses there, too. She dedicated time to becoming a life-line volunteer. Deciding to aim higher, Sharyn enrolled in, and completed, a few courses at the TAFE in Shepparton as well. These successes culminated in a surge of confidence, and it encouraged Sharyn to give university another shot to “increase [her] employment prospects.”
With the assistance from the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service, Sharyn applied for a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration in RMIT. Besides that, they assisted with the cost of books, and funded her a wheelchair for independent transfer as well. Research done through the paraplegic and quadriplegic association also helped her find additional accommodations. With all of the logistics settled, Sharyn could then focus on obtaining her degree, and she successfully earned it.
In the meantime, her family relocated to the Geelong region, and Sharyn moved back home after completing her education. Job search proved to be a challenge yet again, as Sharyn was unsuccessful in applying for numerous jobs. Rather than giving up, Sharyn recalled the benefits she gained during her past volunteering experiences, and decided to do that again to build on her resume. “[I felt] as though that looked more positive on a resume than simply being unemployed,” she shares.
Tapping on her past skills, she volunteered as a receptionist at a community organisation that supported the lifestyle and wellbeing of people with disabilities. The community organisation gave her the avenue to reach out to different networks, and she found accessible accommodation and a part-time job at another disability organisation. She was one step closer to achieving her goal of securing her own house and a well-paying job.
Achieving her goals
After a couple years of hard work trying to secure a job, Sharyn achieved success when she was hired by the Department of Human Services. “[Over the next 18 years with the Department,] I took every opportunity I could to develop my skills. I put my hand up for any openings such as training or taking on additional roles. I found myself a mentor who was able to give me advice on how to develop towards a leadership role,” she shares. In addition, three years into her job, she rose up to become a Team Leader.
Now, Sharyn is on a 12-month secondment with the National Disability Insurance Agency.
Sharyn has definitely gone a long way from where she started out, and it’s all attributed to “courage, determination, and goal setting.” With such an accomplished journey, she shares what she has learned throughout her pathway to employment: “I believe the only way to move forward is to look back and learn from your mistakes. Accept feedback from the people you trust and always make yourself available for development opportunities, whether they are offered to you or you have to seek them out. If you are not working, take the time to research appropriate volunteer roles, look at the availability of TAFE courses and take a risk.”
Most importantly, “you may not always be successful but at least you have tried,” and that will be the defining factor for your eventual success.
Share this post with a friend who is looking for employment to encourage him/her that it will all eventually pay off!