Erik Castro, age 22, from Forest Hill, met the Youth Employment Skills (YES) team when he attended a job show at Crystal Palace Football Club in October 2016. Erik had recently graduated from university with a degree in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, but was struggling to find a job where he could use his degree:
“I was actively looking for a job when I finished university, but most jobs required experience”, said Erik. “This was causing me high levels of stress. I had been unemployed for a couple of months but I wasn’t getting anywhere; I didn’t know where I was going wrong.”
Levent Bellikli, Erik’s YES Employment Adviser, remembers their first meeting at the Job Show: “When I first met Erik, I could see that he was keen to secure employment, but just didn’t have the confidence to do so.
“It was clear that he had frustrations with not being able to find employment, and was disappointed that he had completed his degree but hadn’t been able to use it.”
Levent sought advice from one of his contacts about careers in Software Development, who provided him with a list of relevant recruitment sites and valuable advice to pass on to Erik.
“We used this advice to change and tailor Erik’s CV”, said Levent, “so that it targeted the specific jobs he was looking for in his industry of interest.”
The pair worked together to upload Erik’s CV on to recruitment sites and search for jobs online. Erik even took part in a one day training course called ‘Positive Attitudes and Behaviours at Work’, an in-house course supplied by the YES programme.
“Levent supported me with everything”, said Erik, “from getting my CV right to applying for jobs – he was sending me emails every day with different job and training opportunities.”
They eventually came across a company called DRIVE Software Solutions and, after reading through the job specification, Levent trained Erik on how to apply, including creating a covering letter to attract the employer’s attention.
Erik was subsequently invited to attend a competency based interview with the company:
“When I got the interview, Levent trained me for it. It really helped.”
A week after, Erik received a call from DRIVE offering him his dream job as a Trainee Developer:
“I’m really enjoying it”, said Erik. “Everyone there is great.
“My favourite thing is that, normally when you’re working, you’re always thinking about the time: what time you’re leaving home in the morning, what time you’re going at the end of the day.
“But when I’m doing this job, I don’t do that; I walk in there at 9am, then all of a sudden it’s time to go home; I’m not forcing myself to do the job – I just do it and really enjoy it.”
Erik credits the support he received from Levent and the YES programme for helping him to land his dream job:
“The best thing about the YES programme is the support you get. I don’t know how to put it into words…do you know the feeling you have when you know that someone actually cares about you?
“Every single day when I woke up, I’d check my email and see Levent had written to me with job opportunities and course suggestions: ‘you can come in’, ‘you can apply for these jobs’, ‘you can do this and do that’…he was pushing me to do what I wanted to do. That felt great because he actually cared about my future and what I could do.
“It’s not just a job for him, he really cares. I really appreciate it.”
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