Caroline Johnson – Civil Service learner

Caroline came on to the course in the hope of developing and improving IT and communication skills after her previous employer went into administration. Being pushed out of her comfort zone by the training, Caroline was able to develop a greater awareness of how to apply for jobs in the sector, and has even gone on to find work as an Administrative Assistant! Congratulations, Caroline, and best of luck!

What were you doing before you started the programme?
I have a broad background in retail where I developed my customer service skills. I worked at Fenwick department store in Newcastle for 20 years in several concessions including Benetton, Oasis, Ted Baker where I was Assistant Manager, and Jaeger. I lost my job when Jaeger went into administration and have been unemployed since 2021.

How did you find out about the training?
I was receiving support from my DWP Work Coach, and Charlotte from Making a Difference. I received a message to my UC journal about the Civil Service course asking if I was interested in taking part.

Why did you decide to join?
I wanted to develop and improve my skills. I have lots of customer service skills but wanted to learn more about the IT side of things, communicating and influencing. I thought it was an opportunity to access new learning and understand how to go about trying to secure employment in the sector. I had spent time helping my family since losing my job, but felt it was time to return to work again.

What did you think of the training? How did it help you?
I found taking part in the course was an uplifting experience. The tutors on the programme, James and Neil, were fantastic. The training was in-depth and covered things in fine detail. I developed a greater awareness of how to apply for jobs in the sector. It pushed me out of my comfort zone. James was encouraging, believed in me and my confidence grew. It was very helpful to talk through personal statements, competencies and have a mock interview as part of my preparations for work again. The help and assistance continued even after the course has finished.

Were there any barriers or obstacles you had to overcome?
I had been out of work for a while and needed to build my confidence. It was difficult not knowing what line of employment to pursue. My experience is all retail based, and to me it feels like a dying trade. I needed to find employment that could offer a greater level of security for both me and my daughter.

What are you doing now?
I have accepted a role as an Administrative Assistant with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. I’m just waiting for my employment checks to be completed before I start. The role will include handling calls, replying to emails and helping to arrange tests. It’s great to have got the job!

What impact has the training had on your life?
Taking part in the course has helped me to get my new job – 100%! It has given me the confidence to believe in myself again. I feel like I have an understanding of the role, how the Civil Service works and what to expect, so the course has also put me at ease in advance of starting.

What are your plans for the future?
I would like to do well in my new job. I’m planning on pushing myself a bit more, which I think will come in time with more knowledge and confidence. I’d like to develop and accept opportunities to learn more than I have done in the past. My overall aim is to try and make a better life for my family.

What would you say to someone who was thinking about doing the training but wasn’t sure?
I would say to go ahead and keep an open mind! It’s a fantastic course, and I’m proud I did it! It encourages you to push your boundaries, gives you confidence and opens opportunities.

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