Posted on: 3 June 2024

Zahra’s journey with the Trust's Volunteer to Career Programme began like that of anyone searching for their place in the world, full of hopes and a bit of uncertainty.

Zahra’s Journey Begins

It started on a day much like any other, but with a step that would change everything. Inspired by CNWL’s core values and a conversation with her incredibly inspiring supervisor, Shiv Sharma, RDP Manager and Lead group facilitator, Shiv excitedly insisted, "Hey, you should totally go for it; it's amazing!" - Zahra found the courage and took the leap into the VtC programme, eager to evolve from a Recovery Support volunteer to something more: a CNWL NHS employee in a Health and Wellbeing Community Connector role.

Overcoming Doubts

Despite her initial enthusiasm, Zahra had her fair share of doubts. Rejection had been a familiar sting, and the clear path forward seemed clouded at times. But the VtC programme started to change that for her.

"The support I received was phenomenal," she shares. "The support they offered, especially in terms of personal statements and development, was a game-changer for me when I started applying for jobs. I mean, it was like having this safety net, you know? The guidance and assistance that Ania Adams (VtC lead) gave me really made all the difference."

Skill Development

Zahra also developed her skills and she learned how to showcase her abilities in interviews using the STAR method, turning potential interviews into opportunities for demonstration.

“Before VtC, I would simply mention my skills in interviews like teamwork without depth and providing examples,” she explains. “I’ve picked up so many skills,” she beams. From editing her CV to learning the STAR method in interviews, Zahra felt herself growing stronger and more confident with each step. "Each session was a building block, adding to my confidence," she notes. Now, she approaches each opportunity with a lot of depth and confidence.

Personal Growth Through Volunteering

Beyond career development, Zahra found her volunteering experiences to be transformative on a personal level. Engaging with individuals from diverse backgrounds, she developed a deep sense of empathy and a non-judgmental attitude. 

"Volunteering taught me so much about empathy and connecting with people from all walks of life,” Zahra reflects, underscoring the personal growth that paralleled her professional achievements.

Looking to the Future

With her newfound skills and a clear vision for the future, Zahra is on a determined path to become a clinical psychologist.

“All the interview prep, all the personal statement polishing, it’s set me up for success,” she says, with excitement and determination.

Zahra's Advice

Zahra's advice to anyone considering the VtC programme is: “Go for it. It’s a chance to grow, to learn, and to open doors you never thought possible. Never give up,” she encourages. Zahra's journey exemplifies the impact and power of dedicated support, hard work, and just a dash of bravery.

Gratitude for Mentorship

As Zahra prepares to start her new role with CNWL NHS, she is particularly thankful for the mentorship she received through the VtC programme.

“I wouldn’t have made it this far without the mentorship and support,”. Her journey is an example of how a little support and a lot of hard work can truly transform lives - not just on the job front but in finding one’s self-worth and potential.

A Journey to Remember

Zahra’s story is a reminder for all of us that every big journey begins with a small step, and a bit of courage can light the way. Her story, is about more than climbing a career ladder; it's about the personal journey, the lives she’s touched, and the ones that have touched hers, all sparked by her decision to volunteer and grow through the VtC programme.