What to expect when you first sign up to EPIC

Friday, 19 February 2021

Choosing a Disability Employment Service provider can be a tricky decision. It can be hard to know what to expect from each provider.

At EPIC Assist (EPIC) we believe your disability, injury or mental health condition should never stand in the way of finding a job you love. We believe everybody has a right to work. We do whatever it takes to help you achieve your employment goals.

To give a more in-depth look into what to expect when you begin your employment journey with EPIC, we chatted with Employment Consultant Lollita. Lollita shares her firsthand experience and insights about how she supports her job seekers and why she is passionate about seeing them succeed.

On the journey together – an interview with an EPIC Employment Consultant

Headshot of Lollita Stratton
Lollita Stratton -Employment Consultant, EPIC Assist Launceston

Q1. Can you give a general overview of what an Employment Consultant is?

The technical description of an Employment Consultant is to assess the needs of job seekers who have a disability, injury, mental health condition, or health condition and assist them to gain sustainable employment by preparing and implementing individualised plans, providing employment skills, training, placements, and support services.

But it is so much more than the technical description. There are days I feel that I have multiple personalities as I change my demeanour for each individual job seeker. Some need softly spoken Lollita with lots of encouragement, some need upbeat Lollita that is bubbly and vivacious, and some need stern Lollita that insists they work hard.

Through on-the-job support and training, meeting face-to-face, assisting with employer meetings, phone calls and on occasion a coffee or lunch run, I provide ongoing support and ensure my participants are always comfortable seeking assistance when required.

Q2. What can people expect when they first contact EPIC?

At EPIC you can expect compassion, realism, professionalism, excellent communication, support, flexibility, and a good ear.

You can find real people at the end of the phone. You can find people with similar stories and experiences. You can find understanding and assistance in reaching your goals.

I begin every initial appointment by just talking with the job seeker, sharing experiences and making them feel comfortable. I feel this is vital because a participant will never open-up and be honest with you if they feel you are beyond them or not on their wavelength.

Q3. How do you and your job seekers work out what sort of jobs are suitable to apply for?

After I have engaged with a job seeker and learnt who they are and what they require, then, and only then, do I begin to search for their inner dreams – what do you want to do with your life? If you could have a dream job, what would it be?

I then start looking for a pathway to achieve this goal. Either by contacting employers, looking at job listings or training options to help fill potential gaps in knowledge.

At EPIC, we provide opportunities to test drive positions through work experience. This provides both the participant and the employer an opportunity get to know one another, allows the participant to get a good feel for the job and if they like it, and allows the employer to see a committed employee in action.

Recently, I worked with a young man that wanted to work in a lawyer’s office. So, I took him to see my lawyer and we did a walk through noting all the things the receptionist was doing. We spoke to her and got an excellent understanding of what he needed to do. We then went back to the office and listed pro’s and con’s, skills, and attributes and he decided he needed further education. We looked through the courses he believed would be a good fit. He has now completed that and looking at other ways he can further himself.

Q4. How do you support your job seekers during the job search?

The job search can be difficult for some of our job seekers, particularly those with little or no experience.

To assist my job seekers, we first look at and create a resume that highlights their skill set and deletes the negatives. Once this is complete, we look at job search engines. After finding potential roles, we highlight the position description and write down ways they have had experience in the criteria, or ways they can show they can complete the task. Using this information, we then write a cover letter and apply for the position.

Q5. How do you support your participants after they have found work?

Once my job seeker has secured a position, I do not just leave them high and dry. I call, visit, and support them in workplace situations. This could include conversations with the employer, teaching them on-the-job skills, providing them with uniforms or tools for work, connecting them to our mental health consultants, and always having an ear to voice their concerns, successes, and failures.

The first few weeks of employment are when participants are finding their way and trying to fit in. This is when I stick to them and assist them through the transitional early stages.

When a participant asks me for assistance, the first thing we do is look at the task they are having trouble with and break it down. This shows the participant what they are doing well and what they require assistance to improve.

Q6. Why are you passionate about your role?

After spending seven years as a teacher and dealing with anxiety and depression, I can connect to my job seekers. I work with the job seekers that come into EPIC that the system has failed, and I try to repair some of the damage. For me, it is again about the success, whether that be job success, education success, or holding a full conversation success. The inspiration lies in the delights of my participants – encouraging them to keep going and being there for them when they fail and showing them that within failure we can find ways to improve. Success is just around the corner.

This is not just a job for me. It is a pleasure to come to work each day and see my participants growing. I reward them by giving them this information, letting them know when they have completed a task independently, written a great cover letter, gotten that interview, and best of all when they come in and say they have gotten a job. If they didn’t get it, we look at what we have done and how we can make it better – but we always celebrate even the small success.

Q7. What is your favourite part of the job?

Seeing my job seekers, talking with them about life, what their dreams are, and helping them make their dreams a reality. Watching them grow as individuals and being part of that success.

Q8. What is it like getting to see your participants succeed firsthand?

It is an amazing thing to see when a participant has achieved great results in their course or gotten that job that they have always wanted – the excitement fills the air, and you cannot help but feel happy for them. You get caught up in their enthusiasm and it makes you work harder for the next participant so they can have that sense of achievement too.

Q9. Why do you think EPIC is different to other DES providers?

I believe our participants feel valued as individuals. We assist, we explain, we encourage, we support, and we commit to their success. We are open, friendly, and genuine.

If you or someone you know is looking for support in finding long-term and meaningful employment, contact EPIC today. We will be with you every step of the way.

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