An interview with StepUp participant, Zach, and his Employment Counselor, Tim Wollin.
Zach, could you talk about what life was like before you came through StepUp?
I had been unemployed for over 16 months. I was struggling with drugs and alcohol and because of that I couldn’t keep a job. I was showing up late and missing shifts. Eventually I gave up hope because of my addiction and inability to keep a job.
Eventually I found out about a substance abuse recovery program at Urban Ministries of Durham. They helped me get my life back on track. UMD gave me a space to recover physically and mentally.
After several months I was in a much better place. However, I still needed a job – it had been over a year since I last worked - and I’ve always been someone who loves earning a paycheck. And so what I needed next was someone who could help me get a job.
Thankfully, that’s when I found out about StepUp Durham. StepUp taught me about communication, working in a team, and how my skills might benefit a future employer. StepUp worked with me to teach me some new skills and to sharpen the skills I already had.
How has it been since coming through StepUp?
I immediately started working to get a job. After completing the StepUp Workshop, I had confidence that I could do anything. So I took my résumé, I put on my suit, and I just started introducing myself to employers.
On my ninth day of job searching, I was at Northgate Mall and saw a “Now Hiring” sign at a men’s clothing store. I went in and introduced myself. I highlighted my customer service skills and my Point of Sales retail experience, stated my sales background, and just let the employer know how excited I was about customer service and being a friendly face for people. The manager on duty was so impressed they asked me to start the very next day!
I was so full of joy! I had gone from unemployed for 14 months to having a job within 9 days of completing the StepUp Workshop.
What’s next for you?
That job I got in October ended up being seasonal, but it gave me the money I needed to get my car back. So as of today (January 13), I have been hired to be a delivery driver for Domino’s. I am so excited for this job! I love customer service and delivering pizzas is really fun!
Because of this new job, I will be able to go back to school. I am going to be able to continue building up my savings. And I am going to move out of Urban Ministries into my own apartment! StepUp has taught me a new way of thinking, helped me have a new attitude, and given me fresh hope for my life. StepUp helped me remember who I am and my gifts and abilities so that I could achieve my goals. I’m excited for what comes next!
StepUp is one of the best things I have ever tried and done. And for those willing to give StepUp a chance, you won’t regret it . . . You’ll leave with a whole new toolkit, not merely to secure a job, but to develop a career.