Dress for Success: ‘I feel like I am a much better role model for my kids’

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Dress for success transformation

My story is happening to women around the country and like me, they never imagined it would happen to them.

In my younger years I earned a five-year scholarship to university, created a women’s leadership conference and had an MBA in Finance and a Masters in Teaching.

I was a high achiever living in Australia with my family overseas.

I married and have three beautiful children and happily left the workforce to be a stay at home mum which I loved. But my marriage was bad and when it ended I had to find a way to put food on the table.

After my divorce, the emotional and financial abuse I had suffered left me with post-traumatic stress disorder. I had panic attacks that left me at times unable to walk, eat or sleep and Valium was about my only friend. I had an intense self-loathing.

I would hear others say… “I would not have let that happen to me,” and I would think, “What did I do wrong?’ and blame myself for my situation. I was so depressed, lonely, unconfident, and isolated due to lack of money.

Even a relatively small thing like a car battery going flat was a big deal and a source of more stress.

Over the years my self-confidence had slowly eroded and I found it impossible to get a job – even an interview.

After about two years of fruitless job searching, I decided to return to study, and completed an Advanced Diploma of Technical Business Analysis and a Diploma of Database Management.

But I still could not get an interview, as I had no experience in those areas, and was by now 48 years old.

I was desperate, and angry at myself for spending so much time and effort on more qualifications that did not seem to be making me any more employable. I took classes on how to create my resume, asked for advice, but still I could not get even an interview for a job.

I heard about Dress For Success, but was initially reluctant to go because it meant that I would have to drive up to two hours to get there and would only just make it back in time to get my children after school. But I went.

At Dress for Success, I took advantage of many practice interview classes and these really helped to break my loneliness and isolation. After three classes, I was assigned a coach. WOW.

She is a very confident, successful woman, and was incredibly helpful. She rewrote my resume and encouraged me to practice saying out loud positive, confident, business-like descriptions of myself until I started to believe in myself again (or at least sound like I did). I started to get interviews.

Dress for Success gave me my interview clothes – five smart and stylish outfits that not only helped me to look great, but, importantly, feel good about myself again. I would arrive half an hour before a job interview and my coach would call me and pump me up.

“You can do this!” You can get the job!” she would say to me.

And then…. she helped me get a very good job. Not just any job. A job that I had studied for, was qualified for – a technical and data analyst at a large company close to home.

Dress for Success helps mum turn life around
Emilia, pictured back row right, can’t thank Dress for Success enough for helping her turn her life around.

I feel like I am a much better a role model for my kids, and am so happy.

We are no longer isolated: when my children have a class gathering at a restaurant, we can go and join the others for dinner. When my car of 13 years decided not to start any more, I could go out and buy a new one.

Thanks to Dress for Success. I was able to help my mother emigrate and my children now have the benefit of her living with us.

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