From anxiety to acing hospitality role, Acacia turns her life around
Acacia experienced anxiety and bulimia in her late teenage and early adult years. She was also born with gastroschisis, a birth defect of the abdominal (belly) wall which also led to physical discomfort and heightened anxiety during this time.
Today, she is a confident young woman that continues to reflect on life by surrounding herself with family and friends that are supportive and positive. Acacia is now working in hospitality for a local Italian restaurant, Verona, located in Devonport, Tasmania and it’s here she loves to help people have a joyful experience when dining in.
“Now that I am working, I’ve found a sense of purpose and enjoy being attentive to someone. Having a job to go to has enabled me to get out of a dark place. Up until a few months ago, I didn’t want to go to work. I was trying to deal with my anxiety and what I realised was that waitressing allowed me to shift my focus and thoughts,” said Acacia.
Through the support of WISE Devonport, Acacia has completed a Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways to develop her foundation skills to enter the workforce. Acacia also undertook a Gold Class program at WISE, enabling her to work within a group environment and learn about job expectations, challenges and problem solving.
The team at WISE Devonport, especially Claire, played a huge role in Acacia’s development, by adopting a tailored approach that helped overcome her barriers.
“I was closed off and shy and lacked self-worth up until I came across WISE. I thought my performance wasn’t good enough. It was the courses and words of encouragement from the likes of Claire and Morgan that helped me.
“I never used to be able to answer the phone, interact or be in the room by myself. As I hadn’t gone to school since Grade 6, I was scared of the classroom. WISE helped me overcome my fears – they helped me do the work at home – introduced me to Headspace and gradually I built my confidence,” explained Acacia.
WISE Business Manager Claire has been a part of Acacia’s three-year journey to date.
“With Acacia we looked at developing her skills and confidence including having her take part in our Jump Start program which is a weekly group that encourages job seekers to make their own phone calls to businesses, helping candidates with applications and preparing with all aspects of an interview.
During this time I would pick up Acacia for every appointment she had; we believed in her and knew she would make a difference to any workplace. It’s so great to see how she has turned that shyness around to having great eye contact and speaking to people she doesn’t know. This is something that was a real challenge for Acacia in the past. We’re thrilled and inspired by her progress,” explained Claire.
Acacia’s role at Verona is customer service and she’s learning how to work at the till. Her Manager Kate is thrilled to have her on board.
“Acacia came to us in an interview with very little confidence and was very meek, yet she showed such honesty in her answers and comments that we decided to give her a position as a trainee. She has grown in confidence dramatically and has taken on every task that has been given to her, even if it made her feel uncomfortable.
With the support of WISE Employment and The Verona team, she has stretched herself beyond her comfort zone again and again and has grown her skills as such that she is one of our most valuable employees. Acacia is so reliable, dependable and has a beautifully kind nature that she has fit into our workplace like a glove. We are so proud of her!” said Kate
As for Acacia, she believes that her path, for all of its challenges and milestones has led her on a journey that’s right at this point in time of her life.
“Working at Verona has really helped build my confidence. I’m on such a natural high as I used to tell myself I couldn’t do anything. I never thought with my anxiety and other barriers I’d be able to take on a customer service role. This came at the right time and my goal is to now help other people,” said Acacia.