Graeme, 28, is a former CJS employee who worked with CJS employer Scottish Sports Futures. We asked him about his experience:
How did you get involved with CJS?
I had just finished at The University of Stirling and with an underlying health condition – Ulcerated Colitis - I was terrified to start looking for full time jobs. I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to coordinate working life with the flare ups that are associated with my condition.
Through a friend, I heard about the CJS programme. I heard they were offering roles to individuals with circumstances that made it difficult for them to find work. With the part time hours and an understanding of individual backgrounds, I thought the CJS programme would be a very good way for me to start off my career.
What was the process of getting a job through CJS like?
I became involved when CJS were recruiting for jobs around Glasgow. I was determined to be a part of it even though I currently live in Fife. I remember driving to Celtic park for the recruitment day not knowing what to expect. I knew there was going to be an interview process but wasn’t sure how this would last a whole morning.
I was pleasantly surprised to arrive at the event and find a whole array of different people. After registration we were taken into one of the main event rooms where we were told about the process of the day. It was a more laid-back atmosphere to a traditional job interview, and I loved that. A speaker who had gained employment through CJS told us about his time with the programme. It was inspiring to listen to! Then it was time for the interviews. In the room next door there were a whole bunch of tables set up with interviews and interviewees. I had past knowledge of one of the organisations who were present at the event, Scottish Sports Futures (SSF). Their inspiring work with young people was something I definitely wanted to be a part of. I was interviewed by two people from SSF. I was nervous and I was shaking but the more I spoke, the calmer I got. I remembered to do exactly as I was told by everyone who had coached me in prep for the day – be yourself! Everyone was incredibly friendly. I was offered an additional interview to increase my chances of getting hired by someone, but my heart was set on SSF. A few days later I received a phone call to tell me I got the job. I was over the moon!
What did your role at SSF involve?
The role I was successful in obtaining was SSF Administrator and there was nothing not to enjoy about it! I was behind the scenes of everything, working with different teams within the organisation to help maintain and promote their programmes. To start with my role involved administration task such as typing up notes, taking minutes, posting letters and packages, designing flyers and filing to name a few but it became so much more than that.
By the end of my time at SSF I was responsible for a lot of the communications work which was done by the charity: I would populate the social media pages and SSF website with news stories and blogs written by members of the SSF team. I would design engaging resources to advertise SSF programme and events. I was involved with planning of future marketing and communications strategies as a key member of the communications team and the first point of contact for any queries that came into the office by phone or email, I was always enthusiastic to help.
One of the things I loved most was building relationship with my colleagues to let them know that I could be relied on. Having these relationships inspired me to want to do my best. I’d like to think that everyone I worked with knew to come to me if they had any task or issues they needed help with. This is something I find is very important within working life and something I plan to continue throughout my future career. Overall, I enjoyed the diversity of the role, the new skills I learned within the role and to know that the work I was doing was contributing to a “changing lives” programme was the cherry on top.
How did having a CJS job benefit you?
How long have you got? The benefits of my CJS job were endless! Having a wage was one thing but the biggest benefit was the understanding my employer had regarding my background with my health condition. This was important to me. In high times of stress, I tend to feel unwell and starting a new job is incredibly stressful! SSF were kind to me and they understood that I would do the best I could no matter what I was facing. They offered me the chance to work from home on day a week to manage my stress and this helped me settle in a lot quicker! Knowing that I had that support allowed me to gain confidence within my CJS employment. To gain the skills to manage my stress and therefor manage my health (both physical and mental) is something my CJS post has given me and something that I have genuinely needed to prepare for full time work.
What does your new job involve?
From leaving SSF, I am beginning a job as an Employability Project Worker with Link Group. The excitement I have for starting this post is unbelievable. This role involves working on a programme that is very similar to the CJS programme I came through. I love using my own experiences to help others like myself and I couldn’t imagine a better job to be transitioning into. To help others the way CJS has helped me is going to be so rewarding!
What are you looking forward to in the future?
My goal since getting Ulcerated Colitis when I was 18 has been to help others through difficult circumstances in whatever way I can. This has driven the decisions I have made throughout both my personal and professional life. I started my career, through CJS, with a charity that is dedicated to helping young people fulfil their full potential. I am moving to a charity that helps people gain vital skills through employment. I fully intend to commit my future to doing the same. I want to be the person that is there to help people when they really need it. To have someone say, this person or this programme has helped me find a better quality of life, just like CJS did for me, would be amazing!
Would you recommend the CJS programme to others?
I left University feeling lost, confused, scared and not the least bit aware of what career path I wanted to take. I let my condition control my life and was in a constant mental battle with myself. CJS came out of nowhere and from just hearing the name over a year ago, look where I am now. I not only have a full-time job, but I am excited about what my future in employment can be. I have gained employability skills beyond belief, I am proud of what I have accomplished, and I want to use my journey to help others like me. Community Jobs Scotland got me here and they could get you there. They are supportive, they want the best for people, and they are willing to help you get to where you need to be. It has been incredible to be a part of and just writing this I can’t believe how far I have come. If you have the opportunity to get involved with CJS, don’t hesitate… GO FOR IT!