Severe depression and social anxiety were major obstacles in Alice’s life.
Those obstacles were factors in her decision to stop attending high school and also made it seem that finding her first job would be impossible.
Alice wanted a job and the independence that came with it. She was referred to Goodwill’s Individual Placement and Support program (IPS) by Milwaukee County's Comprehensive Community Services program and was placed with her IPS Employment Specialist, Erika.
When Erika started working with her, the first thing she asked was, “What’s your dream job?”
Alice hesitated, and stated that she would love to work with animals but having a first job was her priority. Erika worked with Alice to create a resume, develop interview skills and complete job applications.
“My social anxiety and my learning disability made it really difficult for me to complete job applications,” Alice said.
Nearly one year later, Alice landed her first job in a retail clothing store as a freight associate. Erika worked with Alice to develop her skills in advocacy for requesting time off, asking for additional training and dealing with workplace conflict. Alice’s confidence blossomed. She was doing well, but she wanted more.
“I always tell my clients that I love my job, and it is my goal to help them find a job that they love,” Erika said. “Alice liked her job, but she did not love it. We both wanted to change that.”
Erika and Alice started meeting again more regularly to apply for jobs working with animals. Within just a few weeks, Alice got a job at a doggy daycare. She would be making a higher hourly wage and would get to play with dogs all day.
“I want to rescue animals as my career,” Alice said. “I think my job now is definitely helping me reach that goal.”
Alice said working has helped her become more independent, better manage her social anxiety and make a few friends along the way. More than ever, Alice sees her future as bright and promising.
Her story does not end here, Alice hopes to complete her GED and then move on to more formal training to get her the expertise required to rescue animals in need.
Alice wanted to share some advice to other individuals facing mental health challenges who are thinking about working: “Stay determined and remind yourself that you want it. Just remember all of the positive things that will come out of working.”