This post was written by a young person on the Reach Up programme.
Having been diagnosed with Asperges Syndrome in 2010, I struggle massively with social interaction and making friends, and sometimes social situations can lead to unexpected reactions.
I never thought I would overcome some of the social barriers or challenges I faced. Job hunting was exceptionally difficult and my confidence and self-belief suffered as a result. I hit rock bottom during my job search and did not know where to turn to get support or help until I came across the Reach Up programme.
My first day of attending Reach Up involved a day out in Liverpool learning about ‘A Day in the Life of Coca Cola’ with the Field Sales team. I learnt a lot from the Coca Cola employees about the importance of marketing and advertising. I have to say though, my favourite part of the day was learning how to pour the perfect glass of Coca Cola, I did not know this was a thing.
On one of the Reach Up days I gained hands on experience of running a Community Cafe. I didn’t want to do this as I felt incredibly anxious, but I decided to give it my best shot. Despite feeling slightly overwhelmed I gained so much knowledge on how to run a business, so now I can say I don’t regret the chance I took on taking part.
Through Reach Up I learnt more about networking and also had mock interviews with professionals. I’ve also had support in learning to write a good covering letter and learnt what’s important to include when applying for jobs, some of which I didn’t value as important before. For example, I never once thought that explaining about my Asperges at the start of interviews was allowed and didn’t consider it as an option. Through Reach Up I learnt that it is important to inform the interviewers about my Asperges so they can not only understand me better but also so that I might be able to get support in the workplace.
Since joining Reach Up, I have felt so much more confident. I have learnt that I will achieve my dreams and aspirations if I have the right determination. I have learnt to never let a mistake in my path to be the end of my journey, as my journey is only just starting as my career pathway opportunities are endless.
This programme would not be possible without the support of Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) and our delivery partner Youth Federation.
Engaging 16 to 23 year olds, Reach Up is a programme for young people who are NEET or at risk of becoming NEET or underemployed and empowers them with the confidence, skills and experience needed to feel ready for the work place.
The programme includes workshops delivered by youth workers and CCEP volunteers; networking masterclasses; mock interviews; and real life experience through spending a day in the life of the CCEP’s Field Sales team and even running their own Community Café! At the end of the programme, young people will have the employability skills and confidence to secure full-time employment and thrive within the workplace.