This blog post was written by Camila Karalyte.
After finishing my degree in English Literature and creative writing, my mental health took a turn. Forced to move back in with my parents, I struggled to deal with the simple aspects of life; the thought of being a full-blown adult terrified me.
I had relied on the crutches of Uni life for three years, not paying much focus on what I wanted to do in life, but there I was, aged 21- unemployed, dealing with heartbreak and living in an environment I was so eager to leave.
I spent months looking for a job, but after being beaten by over-qualified people for basic entry-level jobs, I knew I had no chance in competing. However, I was lucky enough to find an internship with a digital magazine, working remotely on researching and writing articles for the site. By this time, I had discovered I would love a writing-based career, so this seemed like a dream, to finally have relevant experience on my CV, as well as my degree.
My mental health deteriorated during lockdown and I felt the most inadequate I’ve ever done.
My anxiety and OCD got worse, but it felt almost comforting, being unemployed and not having to face the new anxieties about starting a new job. Despite this, applying for jobs became routine, and as September came, I was offered a retail position in a garden centre.
Over the next four months, my mental health flourished, and I finally lifted myself out of a dark pit. I enjoyed going to work and seeing a team of people with who I became close friends, which was why, when I was furloughed on Christmas Eve, I was devastated. I had just moved out of my family home into a flat by myself, had a job I loved and friends I saw every day. I spent the beginning of the New Year being miserable and anxious. In February, I was let go from the job, with no warning. I had built up the hope that after furlough, I would be back to work. I was distraught, that the thing that improved my mental health, was now the reason it was back at rock bottom.
I had been encouraged to apply for universal credit, which I felt a bit embarrassed by, but I knew I wasn’t the only one. A few interviews later, I still had no job and although I was helped financially, my mental health was getting worse with every day passing and every rejection. I was advised by my work coach to join a virtual meeting for the government Kickstart Scheme, to see what opportunities there were local to me.
A role for a Social Media Assistant caught my attention, for an automotive repairs garage – not exactly an industry I was keen on, but it would teach me the skills I would need for my career anyway.
Two months later, my mental health is back on track. I’m focusing on my strengths and potential in the role, and my manager, the director of UK Truck and Plant Group, Sarah, is the strongest role model I have ever had. As a director and a mechanic, not only is she a female thriving in a male-dominated industry, she is also breaking stereotypes while being brilliant in what she does.
I had witnessed a lot of sexism and discrimination in my previous job roles, especially as a gay female, so it’s refreshing to see how a woman can flourish and feel empowered in her role. Having such a positive role model assist me in my role has inspired me to do well and to push myself further. I hope to one day be a role model for girls in similar situations as myself, to help them thrive in the workplace.
In terms of my career and future, I feel more driven and have hopes of progressing with my writing, whether I remain or not at UK Truck and Plant after my 6-month placement. My mental health still has its bad days, but going to a job I enjoy has helped, knowing each day that I am growing and learning.
I would love to encourage others in a similar position to me. Joining the Kickstart scheme is not a sign of failure, but another step in your career. I am so grateful for the team at UK Truck and Plant Group, who have helped me realise my potential and supported me through this.
Here at The Like Me CIC we offer employability support to companies and individuals that apply to the Kickstart Scheme. To learn more about our services and how to apply to the Kickstart Scheme click here.