“Meeting my mentor was just like meeting a friend.”
After completing her final round of the Positive Action towards Career Engagement (PACE) Mentoring program, Moe customer Holly now has the confidence to pursue her chosen career.
The PACE Mentoring program was developed by the Australian Network on Disability (AND) in 2002. It is designed to connect customers* with disability with an experienced professional to help them identify and reach their career goals.
Holly’s experience in the program saw her connecting with mentor Kristy from Latrobe City Council. They met regularly and Kristy shared insights into her role which includes bushfire management, town planning and community consultation.
For Kristy, the desire to help her community runs deep.
“I want to make sure what we are doing is good for the community,” she shares.
Her meetings with Kristy helped Holly to identify administration as her career path of choice and clarify her goals.
Holly’s career had taken a hit after she was diagnosed with severe fibromyalgia in 2012.
Fibromyalgia is a painful condition impacting the central nervous system. For Holly this means her pain receptors are always firing and her mobility is restricted significantly.
While Holly was once a race walker, she now struggles to walk up a set of stairs.
In addition to her physical condition, Holly has also been diagnosed with chronic depression, anxiety and borderline personality disorder.
This complex range of conditions have combined to significantly reduce Holly’s confidence levels.
However engaging in the PACE mentoring program has helped grow her confidence again, while also opening up new opportunities.
“I had felt I wasn’t up to the standard to even apply for different roles, and I feared rejection,” shares Holly.
“The PACE program took me out of that mindset and helped give me some experience and exposure to my dream job,” she says.
“Getting insights into what happens behind the scenes and the more intricate tasks like organising staff, scheduling, writing content for policies and procedures – as I saw those things I also started to feel, ‘you know what? I can do that’, I saw how I could apply my skills in the workplace,” she says.
Kristy also provided practical supports in their meetings including helping Holly to prepare her resume, building her list of referees and together they practiced mock interviews.
Holly also benefitted from connecting in with Kristy’s network including local employers such as real estate agents, medical centres and libraries.
Kristy also ensured Holly had the opportunity to undertake work experience in various administration departments at Latrobe City Council itself.
Holly is now an advocate for the PACE Mentoring program.
“Although it’s nerve wracking, have confidence and do it,” says Holly to potential applicants. “Meeting my mentor was just like meeting a friend.”
PACE applicants are connected with a mentor – an experienced professional – that matches the applicant’s preferred industry, location and goals.
Over 16 weeks participants meet with their mentor at least six times and mentors will share their experiences, offer advice and support and provide insights into their work environment.
Participants like Holly typically enjoy benefits such as building confidence, gaining valuable experience in a workplace setting, growing networking and social skills and improving employability and communication skills.
Meetings might include visiting worksites, networking with other professionals, practicing mock interviews, attending events and team meetings.
Participants are encouraged to bring their own ideas and questions to meetings and are encouraged to practice sharing information related to their disability(ies) with their mentor.
*Eligibility: Customers who are over 18 and a student or jobseeker with disability may be eligible. This could include school leavers, TAFE students, university students or graduates or simply looking for work.
For an overview of the program, visit: PACE Mentee FAQs - Australian Network on Disability