Ade Howell

“I wish I had believed in myself sooner”

You don’t have to have it all figured out in order to move forward. We sat down with one of our Career Coaches, Ade, and spoke about understanding your personal journey, learning the art of self-belief and gaining the confidence to make progress. The result? An uplifting account with some invaluable advice to consider, whatever your circumstances.

Did you enjoy School/College?

School was particularly challenging for me and definitely not my ‘thing’. I stopped going at the age of 14 because I just couldn’t settle. I did go back briefly to complete my maths GCSE which is a decision I’m glad I made at the time, but my family and friends encouraged me to learn a trade, so I went to NPT College and did a Motor Vehicle Service and Repair course. I then went on to do an apprenticeship in mechanics, where I trained to become a vehicle technician. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy either of these roles as the style of work just didn’t suit my personality or skill set. I enjoyed the problem solving aspect of the work but not the day-to-day monotony of the tasks I had to complete. I craved a more exciting and unpredictable role that would peak my interest, and I knew I hadn’t found it yet.

Was there a turning point in your career?

Definitely. I held various labouring jobs over the years and after working for a coal merchant, I found myself on an allotment in Banwen working as a trainee gardener. There was a lovely lady who worked at the allotment who became a mentor figure to me and pushed me to do more with my career. I was encouraged to apply for a trainee community development officer role; I got support with filling in the application form and practiced interview techniques, and I was very fortunate to be offered the role! This was a huge turning point for me: I had always been stuck in labouring jobs because I was hiding behind my dyslexia. I never wanted to do more, because I never believed that I could. I was nervous because I still had the self-doubt that I had always carried, telling me that I couldn’t do it, but for the first time, I was excited about the prospect of a new personal challenge. Truthfully this was the first time in my life that someone had got behind me and supported me to make the most of my potential.

Are there any career decisions that you regret?

I don’t regret anything. My labouring jobs weren’t the best jobs by any means: they were cold, miserable and physically demanding, but they enabled me to get by and gave me a sense of purpose. I reflect on these roles now and realise how far I have come and they motivate me and act as a constant reminder never to settle and to always push myself to do more, despite not ever really believing that I could. It wouldn’t be right to regret them – everything teaches you something.

Top tip when applying for jobs?

Don’t sell yourself short and tell people how good you are; talk positively about your skills, experience and voluntary work and let people know about your achievements. When I first applied for an Advisor role I was certain I was going to be rejected. When I got offered the role I couldn’t believe it and I felt so positive about my future for the first time in a long time. Having the confidence to apply for roles you really want, even when you don’t think you can get them, is a huge part of the development process – if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you, and change is a good thing!

Biggest piece of career advice?

Always turn bad experiences into positive ones which you learn from. Growing up I was constantly told I wasn’t good enough, and for a long time, I believed it. It wasn’t until I was in College that I found out about my dyslexia, and I had always tried to hide it. For anyone in the same situation – hiding it is the worst thing you can do. Dyslexia is not a ‘barrier’; it doesn’t stop me from doing anything in my day-to-day life like I always assumed it would. My perception of my dyslexia being a barrier was the only barrier! I have learnt to speak honestly about my struggles, and it is only now that I am realising how much easier life is and how supportive, kind and considerate people can be. Don’t fear the judgement of others, because what you perceive to be a potentially negative situation can be the direct opposite, and end up giving you confidence and pushing you forward.

What is your ultimate career goal?

I very much live for the moment and make the most of what I am doing here and now. I am really happy and fulfilled in my role as a Career Coach because I love meeting, working with and helping people, and I get a huge sense of satisfaction seeing people change their lives for the better. I can relate to a lot of stories that I hear from clients, and I encourage and empower people to make a positive difference to their lives, because I know it can be done, no matter how unachievable it seems at the time. I like to think that I have proven that no matter how many times people put you down, there is always a new opportunity for a fresh start, to make changes and to do better – everyone gets to a point where they want to give up, but it is the courage to continue that counts.

Ade is one of our Career Coaches based at our Swansea Kingsway site. Our coaches offer one to one tailored support, and help people with all of their employability and career needs. Get in touch to see what we can do for you: 01792 284450.