Craig Armstrong said his job search got “pretty ballsy”, and now he is working full time at Z Energy.
Landing a forecourt role at the Mill Street Z station started five months before he donned the bright orange uniform. After eight years of unemployment Craig went along to a social bowling event with Z staff at the Blind Foundation. This was a key time to network with Z staff and Craig made it pretty clear at the time that he wanted to be playing on their side of the lane.
Afterwards Craig filled out a job application and even attended a group interview. This resulted in him hearing the same words that nearly all job seekers experience, “we’ll get back to you”. And that would have been that.
Craig continued looking for a job and going to the Empowered Employment forums which are put on by Enabling Good Lives Waikato and DPA. One particular forum was about networking skills, and Selwyn Cook, manager at Z was attending. Craig decided to go up and speak with him directly. “I told him I have been to a group interview already, and I am ready to start work”. That was on a Friday, “it was a pretty ballsy thing to do”, Craig said, but on Monday he was offered a job.
Craig said that it was the Empowered Employment forums that gave him, “the skills and confidence to go up to someone like that, otherwise I would have just sat there in the corner.”
Now Craig is doing shift work and loving it. He doesn’t get let off any tasks and they haven’t put any systems in place to make things easier for him, which is exactly the way Craig wants it. “I have to do everything that every other staff person does, and I mean everything. If I make a mistake, I get chewed out just like everyone else”.
The only thing that Z has done differently for Craig is give him a few more hours training than other people. But within three weeks Craig was given extra responsibilities to open and close the store on his own. “Z seems to be a company that is prepared to take risks” Craig said.
Craig says that the best thing about the Empowered Employment forums is the opportunity to discuss ideas amongst people with different types of disability, and share strengths to problem solve with each other. “People need to find ways around their barriers because a company is not going to do that for you”. Craig’s advice is that “companies and people with disability both need to think outside the box”.