Erin felt stifled in her job at Goodwill’s Fillmore Street store in San Francisco. She didn’t see any way to make things better, “unless I took the step to become manager—and that was too scary.” So she resigned herself to a job that didn’t challenge her.
This is a common situation that many low-wage workers find themselves in–unsure how to move forward in their careers to achieve self-sufficiency. In response, United Way grantee Springboard Forward has developed a fundamentally new model called Engaged Employment™, which inspires low-wage workers to develop a long-term vision for career mobility. The program begins with the job they currently have and uses that job as a springboard for improving their future.
“I just didn’t believe in myself. I was bored, but I didn’t know what else I could do.” She found herself feeling increasingly irritated at work, which affected her productivity on the job and made her daily interactions with customers and co-workers more charged than they needed to be. Conversations with her manager left her feeling unheard and, at the same time, she was weighed down with grief at the death of a close family member and a sense that she hadn’t fully processed that loss. She felt stuck and increasingly bitter, and saw no relief ahead of her.
Erin and her Springboard Forward coach worked on personal and professional issues that were keeping her stuck and in that irritated frame of mind. Immediately after the first coaching session, she approached her manager and shared some of the things she had been struggling with, and asked for his help to improve them.
Through role playing and planning with her coach, and leveraging the support of her supervisor, Erin was promoted to the manager position she was once afraid to pursue within just three months of beginning Springboard Forward’s program.
She now runs a different Goodwill store. “[My coach] showed me the potential that I have.” The promotion from store employee to store manager has been a challenging transition for Erin. Her responsibilities have increased exponentially, and because of the Springboard Forward program, she now has strategies and tools to continue her positive momentum.
She’s finding that she draws upon the Engaged Employment™ Program in many aspects of her work and personal life—applying them to improve her communication style with employees, support employee development, and even find support around losing weight. She has a solid plan for becoming a better manager today and moving further up the ladder at Goodwill in the future—and she feels good about her accomplishments. “I am handling situations I never thought I would. Overall this has been one of the best experiences of my life!”