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Tamara's story

Tamara was introduced to Dress for Success a few years ago after graduating college in 2020, as she was invited to attend a contact centre course with Capital Training.


Tamara had the confidence after her styling session to successfully secure a role with MSD, which she is still in her role supporting others in their job search journey.

How did you hear about DFS?

I learnt about DFS during my Capital Training course (Work and Income helped me get onto it) when it came time for people to start going to interviews.

Can you tell us a bit about why you came to us for assistance?

I graduated from Uni at the end of 2020 into a field that felt like it had an impenetrable wall for entry around it and I felt a bit lost, trying to find somewhere that would give me a chance. After a few months I went to MSD for help, a few months later I was invited to a Contact Centre course with Capital Training.

They explained that we’d pop down to the Welly one in groups and be given an outfit to wear for our interviews and then if we got the job, another few pieces for the first week. They wanted to ensure we had the best chance possible of looking great so we could just focus on applying the things we’d been learning and showing who we were and how great a fit we would be.

Honestly it felt a bit surreal to think there was such an amazing support service out there!

What did you hope to achieve?

I wanted to walk out of both visits with something smart I could wear/mix and match that suited my body. For me, a key part of job searching was trying to minimise my anxiety (as much as is possible!). As a plus sized person, feeling like I'm not wearing something flattering/appropriate for the setting psyches me out before I can even start to worry about where I’m going/what I’m saying.

It continues to become more accessible over time but finding nice plus size clothing in a style that I both liked and was appropriate for non-casual wear can be such a struggle. Then add a tight budget where thrift stores aren’t always an option either.

How did we help you?

Not only did I get a fantastic, corporate appropriate interview outfit that I proudly and confidently wore all the pieces for to both interviews, but after successfully getting a role at MSD I got to come back and be set up with pieces to last for the full week including the Casual Fridays! My goodie bags were filled with clothing items, shoes, a bag, accessories and makeup.

How did our volunteers make you feel?

They made me feel like I was starring in a mall shopping spree scene from a late 90s-00s movie!

They were my cheer squad, making me feel good about the choices and working with me to get that right blend of “I like this visually” vs “this looks good on me” vs “this suits the dress code”. It was so nice just having someone to bounce everything off of, we were laughing and chatting away as if we were old friends.

Did our programme(s) meet your expectations?

Absolutely, it blew me away.

What was the outcome? Did you meet your goal?

I got offered and started employment while having fantastic clothing to wear for that first impression/first week and fit in more easily with the dress code.

What did this mean to you? What changes for you as a result?

It really helped me feel less anxious/self-conscious about the (inevitable) new people fishbowl effect. One less thing to worry about in that long mental list of “I’ve just started work now what” I was struggling with!

It was such a kindness that I struggled to find myself worthy of but I’ve never forgotten it. I want everyone searching for a job and struggling to have this amazing experience, to have one less thing to worry about. I never knew about this until I got it but the important and amazing work DFS has only been expanded on since and that makes me incredibly happy. I tell my own clients about DFS and my fantastic experience with them because I know how much of a shame it would be to miss out!

What next? Have you set any other goals?

Advancing my Drivers Licence was my next goal after getting a job and I did that last year finally! I love what I do, I have the honour of being a part of other people’s job searching journey like DFS was for me. Next I want to expand on that and continue to find new ways to improve and incorporate all the different sources of support and resources for current and future job seekers.

What does success mean to you?

Success means trying, putting yourself out there in some way, shape or form and gaining knowledge from the experience (easier said than done, I know!). Learning if something is or isn’t an option still means moving forward/progressing to me, so that’s a successful venture. It allows you to make more educated/informed decisions for a similar/the same scenario the next time around and gives you the chance to adapt and/or grow.

Are you thinking of getting involved in our other programmes?

I love reading the newsletters in my email and would love to attend some workshops or volunteer this year around my work hours!

What advice would you give to other people looking to make a change?

Reach out and say  “Hey I’m trying to do x but I’m just not sure how to get there”. Isolation is something I talk about with my clients now. It’s important to acknowledge that and help navigate to the resources but finding the starting line can be another mission. Most likely if you don’t hit the right person from the get go, they’ll know a redirect to get you going and you’ve made a future connection.

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