Kate Yeo – Career Story

 

“The harder I work, the luckier I get”

 

Did you pursue further or higher education?

After secondary school I attended Graig college in Llanelli where I studied a national diploma in Art and Design. I also had a part-time job in a local restaurant to run alongside my studies. At the time I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do with my future; in school I enjoyed the more artistic side than academic, but overall, I did well in my exams and received good grades. I chose an art and design course as I felt it would be broad enough to apply to multiple career routes, and from here I focused on interior design and fashion-based projects. I really enjoyed my time in college, but towards the end of my course, I still didn’t have a career plan and felt extremely unsure of my next steps.

I decided to continue with education and went on to study Contemporary Applied Arts at Hereford College of Art. I considered several universities and courses but found that smaller class sizes suited me better, so Hereford offered the right learning environment for me to excel in my course. I absolutely loved my time at university (particularly the student lifestyle!) but I did find the course challenging. Throughout my time at university, I developed a specific interest in supporting people in need, and I completed a dissertation on how individuals on the autistic spectrum can express themselves through art. This is where my passion for providing meaningful support to those who need it most began!

 

What shape did your career take post education?

Right up until graduation, I still had little to no idea about what I wanted to do for work. I was offered an opportunity to become a sighted guide for a visually impaired student on the autistic spectrum who was attending a nearby college, and I jumped at the chance; I quickly started an intense period of on-the-job training and I thoroughly enjoyed supporting him through his studies. This role gave me the platform that I needed to do the work I really loved, and my next job was in a local children’s care home and residential school, working with those with learning and physical disabilities. I was promoted to a managerial position after a year and I developed hugely during this time both personally and professionally; I finally knew what I was meant to be doing with my career and my life and I was incredibly motivated to continue helping as many people as possible to overcome their barriers and achieve their goals.

 

How has your career journey developed?

My role in the children’s care home led me a variety of other support roles, including my first experience of employability where I supported individuals with learning difficulties to increase their chances of securing employment. I worked with people on a 1-2-1 basis as a coach, and I really benefited from getting to know individuals on a deeper level so I could truly understand their needs. I also had the opportunity to run an essential skills programme to help individuals boost their literacy and numeracy, and further improve their employment prospects. My next role was in supported employment, helping those with long-term illnesses, mental health issues and learning difficulties to get into work through coaching, mentoring and skills development. I thoroughly enjoyed this job and stayed in the role for 2 years before going on maternity leave. After having my daughter, I returned to work for a few months, but due to big operational changes and wanting to spend more time with my daughter, I decided the full-time hours involving extensive travelling were no longer suitable for me, and so I left to pursue my own business venture.

I started my own business after identifying a gap in the market for practical support services for people who didn’t fit the criteria of many other programmes including certain age groups, employed individuals and those with social anxiety barriers. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to utilise my qualifications in the arts and my support related work experience, so I set up a group in the area for people to carry out art and craft activities whilst working to overcome a range of personal barriers. I loved this business and I felt like I made a real difference to every individual I worked with; I gained a huge sense of purpose, and it was an extremely rewarding part of my career journey.

After working hard at my business for four years, and having my second child, I decided it was time to return to full-time employment. I saw the Employability and Recruitment Consultant role at Better Jobs, Better Futures, and it seemed like the perfect fit; I loved that the programme catered for those who often slip through the net in terms of available support, and I knew this would be a role where I could learn and grow, but also where I could add value through my previous experiences. I successfully secured the role, and I was so excited to start this new chapter.

 

Are there any career decisions that you regret?

After I returned from maternity leave, I wish I had worked more closely with my employer to support my new lifestyle as a working mum. I would have enjoyed my role more if I had been offered the chance to work part time, and it would have made the transition from maternity leave back to the working world a lot more manageable. However, it’s always easy to reflect on these situations and wish it was different, but the challenges and difficulties during this period made me more resilient and the person I am today.

 

Did your career direction change after having children?

My career direction didn’t change but my enthusiasm and inspiration certainly did. After having children, I became more passionate about my work as I had a new motivation for supporting people to achieve their potential, regardless of their circumstances. After becoming a new mum, I also had a better an understanding of the needs of women in similar situations, and I felt more equipped to provide better and more effective support to these individuals.

 

Top tip when applying for jobs?

My top tip when applying for jobs is to seek out opportunities that you find interesting and intriguing and apply – it really is as simple as that! Even if you don’t meet 100% of the criteria, you may have other qualities, skills or experience which would be highly valued by the employer. You need to have the self-confidence to demonstrate that you genuinely want the role and are willing to work hard to make a valuable contribution.

 

What is your ultimate piece of advice?

Do what matters, now! If there is something you want or need to do, just believe in yourself and do it. Don’t wait for the perfect moment, take the moment and make it perfect. I am a true believer in taking every chance and seizing every opportunity; if you never try, you’ll never know!