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Shanaz Choudhury

Tower Hamlets local, Shanaz Choudhury attended the STEP programme from June 2014. She met Neda, Gateway STEP Coordinator, by chance at a careers event held at ST Matthias Community Centre.

Like so many mothers, Shanaz had taken a career break in 2001 to raise a family, but she had the desire to return to work and possessed a wealth of experience to offer any prospective employer.

A skilled baker and surface design artist, Shanaz had previously worked in the retail sector but felt that there were numerous obstacles in her way on her journey back to work. Shanaz said: “The world of work has changed so much since I left. Back then you could go into a shop, hand in your CV, and be employed the next day. Now everything is online and you have to do loads of tests for the simplest of jobs.”

Shanaz attended STEP training and with the support of her tutor, secured a two-week work placement with Peacocks with the aim of gaining vital retail sales experience. During her time on placement, Shanaz made a real impact on customers and colleagues alike. She was commended by the store manager for her ability to get along with a wide variety of customers and her positive attitude. She integrated well with fellow team members and discovered she had a multitude of hidden skills.

Feeling re-energized, Shanaz’s confidence went from strength to strength and she continued to apply for retail positions until she secured a part-time post with Iceland.

Shanaz said: “I’m absolutely delighted. The work fits in perfectly with my children’s school hours and I finally have my independence back. I am so pleased to have met Neda all those months ago and cannot thank the STEP programme enough.”