Born and raised in Hackney in a single parent household, Jeanette joined LWL as an unemployed graduate of Sociology. While she says she felt “more than capable of securing a full time job”, Jeanette also felt in need of support to really think through and understand career options that were right for her.
Further, she “wanted to develop the type of attitude and mindset necessary for entering the world of work.” Jeanette had been feeling pessimistic. She says: “I needed to move beyond limitations I’d set around what I could do professionally, and to get out of this feeling that I should just be bound to any job.”
From a “working class background” Jeanette, unlike many of her peers, hadn’t graduated from university with contacts who could open doors for her or advise on next steps. This aspect of LWL – its emphasis on offering connections and help to build and learn from a professional network – is something that Jeanette was particularly keen on gaining.
Reflecting on the workshops programme, Jeanette loved that sessions gave her the opportunity to move around and discover new and different cultural and corporate venues. Of the sessions themselves, she says: “They were led by very inspiring and dynamic professionals from diverse industries and backgrounds. Through them I gained so much valuable information which people would probably pay to get!” One session that really stuck with her, she says, “Was around Innovation and Ideas. It taught me to be more courageous when it comes to investing in myself and adapting to changes.”
Towards the end of the workshops programme, LWL consulted with her about where she wanted to gain work experience. Jeanette was keen to build hers in an organisation that “helped society.” In response she was put forward for a placement with a large national funder of health, education and environment initiatives. Jeanette says: “The experience gave me a unique opportunity to see inside a large corporate organisation. I worked with the campaigns team, carrying out social media research, I spent time in the Digital team receiving CMS training, and I also worked with a corporate assistant, which gave me an idea of coordinating a busy CEO’s itinerary.”
Of the mentoring support offered through LWL, Jeanette saw the 1-1 time with a mentor that she felt was “carefully matched to her personality” as invaluable: “Our catch ups were in the City but also informal, and I’d use them to vent, exchange experiences and come away encouraged. I was advised in the best way possible.” Her mentor, a banker, was also great at using her own networks to help Jeanette, who she recalls “roped in her firm’s HR team to improve my CV – something I’ve since used to get contract work for a charity.”
Another but more surprise outcome for Jeanette through LWL is that she is working on a major art project. Jeanette had one day shown pictures on her phone of her oil paintings to the CEO, who was quick to notice her strong artistic talent and so introduced her to an established East End Artist and graduate of the RCA. He is now assisting Jeanette to lead on the creation of a public installation that will represent her dreams, and those of her peers, for their lives’ in the city.
When asked to summarise how the experience of LWL has changed her, Jeannette says: “I’ve got a better attitude, with broadened horizons. I don’t limit myself to only having one traditional career, but now consider other ways of working. I want to have a full time job, but also consider starting my own fine art business in the future. I no longer see these things as beyond me, or as unrealistic, and if things don’t work out as planned, I know I’ve got the courage to regroup, come up with a new plan and move forward.”