Mentoring supports Curtis into paid employment
Tue 31 October 2017
When Curtis Myles, 26, started as PACE mentee he'd been looking for work for 8 years. Two years ago, he successfully found a job at Coles and is now in the running for a scholarship to follow his dream career.
PACE, or Positive Action towards Career Engagement, is an innovative program designed by the Australian Network on Disability (AND) to connect jobseekers with disability to businesses. It supports the jobseekers to learn vital skills to become job ready and supports managers to become more welcoming of employees with disability in the workforce.
Curtis was matched with Simon who was, at the time, working for Programmed, a Silver member of AND.
“My main goal when I started PACE was to find a job. Simon helped me with my resume and gave me tools and tips to support my job search. We practiced mock interviews and he gave me some good practical feedback. The arrangement continued after the program concluded and I now see Simon once a month,” says Curtis.
Curtis was born profoundly deaf and was the first person in New Zealand to receive a Cochlear Implant at just 12 years old. Before meeting Simon, he felt that his disability has held him back from finding work in customer service as employers just assume he can’t do things rather than asking him. Employers highly value verbal communication in understanding and feedback among employees, especially involved with paying clients in retail industry.
Curtis stated, “The hardest work in the world is being out of work for 8 years long. I had many job interviews and received rejections day after day. You really start to lose your confidence.”
“Meeting Simon changed everything. He changed my perspective and I'm so surprised how the program has worked out. He opened my eyes to a world of employment,” says Curtis.
Curtis added, “Along the way, Simon encouraged to build up my confidence, identify my weaknesses and support me to turn them into greater strengths. He also helped me to overcome my biggest challenge – my own personal doubts and the doubts of others. He helped me turn this into something amazing, proving to the world that we as people with disability can work, just like anyone else.”
“Being able to communicate is important for me. It comes with hard work of taking verbal and hearing lessons while using a telephone headset to communicate and hear better with people on the phone. The progress of improvements is ongoing, remarkable, and this method works effectively for me to use in everyday life,” says Curtis.
Now, Curtis successfully obtained 3 job offers. He travelled to New Caledonia, and New Zealand to celebrate his lifetime goal of losing 50 kilos. Curtis is moving out of his parents’ house for the first time independently and will soon begin a Bachelor of Tourism Management at the University of Western Sydney next year.
Curtis has this advice for others who may be in a similar situation.
“If you have always dreamt of being a doctor, writer, or anything, do it for yourself. Don’t do it for anyone else as I always say that there are people not going to believe in you and hold you back from your dreams. You have to be strong and courageous and know that you can do anything you put your mind to. And ultimately you get the best results that way,” he said.