After leaving sixth form in 2016, I began working in retail. For the first year or so, I enjoyed what I was doing and barely gave the future a second thought. It was when my peers began moving across the country for university that I started to feel as though I was falling behind. I began to dread bumping into old friends through fear of the question ‘so, what are you doing at the moment?’
My self-confidence had plummeted and I was feeling as if I would be stuck stacking shelves forever.

Making Changes

I knew I had to start making positive changes and confided in a few close friends about how I was feeling. One friend suggested that I look into Creative Youth Network, they had helped her find a job she loved and later employed her as a freelancer on their Creative Futures programme. I decided to check out their website and saw they were offering a range of free creative courses (free travel and lunch included!) 
I quickly enquired, and was soon enough booked in to do a Creative Careers fashion and textiles course at The Station. It was a four-week program where I would learn to use a sewing machine, applique, make patterns and earn myself a bronze arts award. However, it wasn’t until the course began that I realised I’d get much more out of it than just these practical skills.

Gaining Confidence

Through the support and encouragement I received, my confidence quickly grew, I felt more productive and I found myself eager for new challenges. I knew I wanted to move away from retail but felt lost about the direction to take. I was completely unaware of the opportunities available to me in Bristol and didn’t know where to look or who to ask. I spoke through some of these feelings with Phoebe, a youth worker on the fashion course, and together we wrote down a list of things I wanted to achieve over the coming year. This alone was a huge push; for the first time in 3 years, I felt I was working towards something.

I took my newfound confidence and started looking for jobs near me. I was keen to build on my skill-set and start my career in a field I was actually interested in. This is how I stumbled across ‘QA apprenticeships'. I hadn't put much thought into doing an apprenticeship but after finding out more, it seemed like the perfect way to start my professional career and gain useful qualifications. I looked through some of the programmes they offered and was particularly interested in their digital marketing options. After I'd read what the job entailed, I felt like it was the perfect fit. I quickly applied and within a day they’d called me back to enrol. Before I had time to doubt myself, I was being offered interviews for companies across Bristol. One interview that stood out in particular, was the role of ‘digital marketer’ for none other than Creative Youth Network.

As I’d had such a great experience with them previously, I made it my mission to get the job and began preparation 2 weeks before the interview. I read through the job description over and over and created a portfolio of relevant skills and experience. I saw they had a 'Help to get a job blog' on their website so I studied it and began working on my interview technique. It was a nerve-wracking experience as I hadn’t applied for a role like this before.  

Fast Forward

Fortunately, my preparation paid off and I’m working here now! It’s been an overwhelmingly positive transition and the progress I’ve made personally has been huge. The environment at Creative Youth Network allows me to build on my creative skills and interests such as photography and writing. I’m able to attend a variation of interesting events across Bristol, taking photos as I go and documenting them on social media. As well as this I’m learning how to update the website, create flyers, use Adobe editing software, read analytics and understand coding (the list goes on but if I continue we'll be here all day!)

My confidence has grown massively since beginning my Creative Youth Network journey. Having the ability to work in a field I’m interested in, as well as improving my skill-set, has given me a sense of optimism I haven’t felt before. Thanks to Creative Youth Network, thinking about my future no longer fills me with dread and I look forward to telling people what I’m up to. My advice for anyone in a similar situation would be to stay positive and to reach out to friends, family and local organisations. There is help and advice out there and when you know where to look, the opportunities are endless.


      


We believe giving young people facing mental and physical barriers the chance to harness their creative interests, gives them the confidence to explore new opportunities. Our creative courses are a big step in the right direction, but we'd like to hear from you. Have you ever used one of our creative services, and if so, do you feel it made a positive impact in your life?