‘When I left College, I wasn’t sure what to do next. I had always wanted to be a bus or train driver, but I couldn’t drive and I didn’t think this career was an option for me. I found DFN Project SEARCH at Whipps Cross Hospital and was thrilled to be accepted onto the scheme as I thought it would give me useful skills and help me work out my next steps. This was an excellent decision and the whole Project was a fantastic experience.
My first placement was in the Medical Engineering Department where I learnt how to fix different medical machines on wards that were not working properly. First, I had to identify what was wrong with the equipment and where the fault was. I then had to decide if it was something we could mend ourselves in the workshop or if we needed to send the equipment back to the manufacturer. Whilst most of the machines I worked on were low risk, I was often able to shadow and learn from the talented members of my team when they handled some of the medium and high-risk machines. I’m a very visual person so if I’m shown a process, rather than given a set of written instructions, I can always remember the steps that need to be followed.
One of the tasks I am most proud of is helping to build two Central Computer and Monitoring Systems (CCMS). This involved getting all the necessary parts out of the packaging, assembling the side plates and securing the last few bolts at the end. I also learnt how to assemble and test brand new medical equipment, including Electrocardiogram (ECG) Machines, and how to decommission medical equipment that is no longer in use. Everyone in the team was really supportive and took the time to train me. If I ever made a mistake, someone was always there to give me advice on how to fix it. At first, I was shy and nervous to ask for help but this was something I worked on and, over the course of the programme, I got better at it.
After leaving the Medical Engineering Department, I started working in Pharmacy. I was able to use my organisational skills to help with stock taking and ensure all the medications were on the allocated shelves. I enjoyed this placement so much that I decided to stay here for my third one. Over the course of the Project, I learnt to drive and I was over the moon when I passed my driving test! I still kept my dream of becoming a bus driver and on Saturday mornings, I would often visit the bus depot close to where I live and speak to the drivers.
If it wasn’t for DFN Project SEARCH, I don’t think I would have had the confidence to speak to them and ask them about their job. Towards the end of the Project, I started to look for jobs using all the job search and application skills I had learnt. I applied for a Pharmacy Apprenticeship. Unfortunately, I wasn’t successful but the experience of going through the application process was really useful and my job coaches were fantastic. They gave me lots of interview practice and helped me work out what information I should include in my interview answers.
After I left the Project, Whitefield Academy Trust’s DFN Project SEARCH Manager, Janet Wingate-Whyte, had a meeting with the Job Centre Plus coaches. She told them about me and my dream of being a bus driver. They suggested I applied to Stagecoach. Even though I was no longer an intern, Janet and the job coaches supported me through the application process and helped me prepare. There were quite a lot of tests but I passed them all and I am just waiting on my medical before being accepted on their training scheme.
DFN Project SEARCH has taught me to persevere and not to give up, and, without it, I don’t think I would be about to start my dream job!’