Zach's Story: Employed in Nine Days Flat

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.