We were sad to see our GRoW Adviser Maria Beuca leave our team a few weeks ago to pursue a new career as a Recycling Officer for Hillingdon Council. Maria has been a valued member of the GRoW Team for over 2 years and has been an integral part of our team since coming through the Programme as a participant. Though we are so sorry to see Maria go, we are also delighted for her as she enters this new chapter in her life.
We spoke to Maria about her time spent as a GRoW Employability Adviser, what she has learned along the way and what advice and insights she can share with GRoW participants.
What has been the best thing about working at GRoW?
So many things combined, and it is hard to pick just one thing. But to keep it short, I would say that being part of an amazing team of women who made working for GRoW fun and friendly, while also being professional; working with so many wonderful mothers and being able to understand their personal life stories, which helped very much in offering tailored support. I was happy to assist them to progress, alongside my colleagues and the work has been so rewarding and insightful for me.
What have you learned through your time at GRoW, personally and professionally?
When I first joined GRoW, I undertook training related to domestic violence and that really helped me to have the appropriate approach when speaking with mothers who went through abuse. It also opened my eyes into a complex subject I knew very little about.
My learning curve then began as an Adviser and I learned so many things in the process, such as learning the basics about the Employability Sector, learning about how to be a good Adviser, time management, about good employability skills for our participants, childcare options for mothers living in different London Boroughs, available support for single mothers, the importance of Adult Education services and local colleges to help mothers with gaining basic skills or accessing different courses, the importance of good management and peer support, the importance of good collaboration with other organisations, and so much more.
As time went by and after attending some great events, I gained a deeper understanding of the Employability Sector and the hard work taking place behind the scenes, as so many people and organisations have a main goal to support people going back into employment and education, looking at the complexity of the situation and trying to bring positive change in the sector, which will then influence people’s lives for the best.
I discovered a part of myself that was dormant for years, that of a working mother, and that was very refreshing and a boost for my self-confidence. I remembered that I wanted to achieve things in life outside of my household and that starting work after years of unemployment can sound daunting but actually, once the right opportunity arrives, it can have a positive impact on your life as a woman. I understood more about my existing skills, and I pushed myself to gain further skills along the way.
I also understood about myself that I am a feminist and that we, as mothers and women, should be kind and supportive to one another, as we share an intimate understanding of what it is like to be mothers and women.
I learned about diversity and the importance of keeping an open mind and have a non-judgemental approach towards everyone I meet.
When you first came to GRoW what were you looking to achieve, have you achieved what you wanted or have your goals and ambitions changed?
At first, I was part of the GRoW programme as a participant for about a year and then, when a job with GRoW became available and I applied, I was offered a part time job. I was quite lost in the beginning, due to a significant gap since my last employment, as well as working remote. But the team has kindly shifted me in the right direction and I have grown immensely in the last couple of years, since I started. I would say that I went from having very little expectations for myself, to feeling significantly confident in the work I was doing and what I had to offer to an employer, two years later.
What is the job that you are now going to be doing and is this something you have always wanted to do?
My hope (and passion) has always been to be able to work in a role where I would have the opportunity to create positive changes in matters related to socio-environmental issues – and I completed a master’s degree in Environment and Sustainable Development in 2015. I realised shortly after that it would be very hard to get a job in this field without having previous sector-related experience. And yet here I am today, years later, and I can say I am part of a team which works hard to create positive change for the environment, as they try to promote and encourage various free recycling opportunities for all Hillingdon residents. It is an exciting role, and I am keen to start this new journey.
Is there anything you would like to say to GRoW participants about their learning journeys and any insights you can share?
There’s so many things I learned in the past years that I wish I could share with you all – but that would take too long to do here.:) A few important things that helped me to progress:
- Allow space and time to look after your general wellbeing. Improve your awareness of who you are – Mercedes’ workshops were like a wake-up call to me, several years ago, when I was feeling lost and I highly recommend attending them.
- Push yourself to learn new things all the time. Improve your skills, step by step, especially your digital skills (it’s a digital world all around us) and if your dream job means starting a college degree or a university degree, it is never too late to do it.
- Improve your networks – it can bring about various opportunities.
- Attend the employability workshops and follow Sonia’s advice on how to prepare for an interview. I personally spent hours in preparing for my last interviews and I was successful in all of them. If I can, so can you.
- Aim for more, don’t settle with low paid jobs or unsuitable working conditions, find out what you need to do to get a higher paid job, find out what you like to do and what you don’t like to do and make a list of suitable jobs. Review your application process with Sonia to make sure you increase your chances at being shortlisted for an interview.
- Volunteering is amazing when you need to add experience on your CV.
- Ask questions when you’re unsure of things, work hard for the things that you want to achieve.
I hope you will enjoy your journey with GRoW as much as I did. 😊