A Mother’s Journey Back to Working Full Time

Going back to the workforce after a year was no easy feat but Lyna managed to get her footing once more.

As a freelance makeup artist, Lyna had trouble expanding her customer base. She explained: “I wasn’t very experienced at marketing my services and could only reach a limited number of customers.”

Unsurprisingly, that translated to minimal earnings. And even lesser savings.

When Lyna got pregnant in 2014, she had to stop work completely. Losing this main source of income plus the looming costs of caring for a new-born baby, like purchasing milk powder, diapers and seeking medical care, the single mother was eventually forced to turn to her mother for financial help.

When her daughter finally turned one, Lyna tried looking for a full-time job to relieve her mother of the rising household expenses. She had been Lyna’s unwavering pillar of support during one of the toughest periods of her life and the least Lyna could do was to express her appreciation by taking action.

However, her journey back to employment had not been smooth sailing.

“I went for many interviews for a full-time job but was unsuccessful every time,” the single mother recounted, grimacing. The multiple rejections had been both mentally exhausting and emotionally draining.

Lyna said: “I had limited education and couldn’t communicate confidently.” She had not expected finding employment to be such a challenge.

Then, purely by chance, she ran into a friend from a local women’s shelter one day. Through their conversation Lyna realised that she was not alone in her situation. Like Lyna, her friend had found it particularly challenging to find full-time employment. Being a single mother with no partner to share the responsibilities of raising a child also added to the challenge of getting a job.

However, a turn of events led her to stumble upon Career Trial, a programme offered by Workforce Singapore (WSG) to support individuals with on-the-job training and an allowance, and she eventually managed to land a full-time job at a nail salon.

After the chance encounter, Lyna’s friend recommended her to The Nail Social and arranged for a meeting with the founder, Ms Cheryl Ou. At their first meeting, Ms Ou offered Lyna a trainee-manicurist role. Under Career Trial, Lyna could pick up the technical skills needed to be a manicurist and at the same time, receive an allowance during her training period.

Lyna’s eyes lit up as she recalled: “I was so excited at the chance to learn manicuring skills and earn an allowance at the same time. There was also the chance of getting a full-time job after training!”

During her 2-month Career Trial, Lyna got a clear understanding of the different parts of a nail and how to sanitise nail tools in a hygienic manner. She also picked up technical skills like nail-filing, cuticle trimming, and honed soft skills like communicating and interacting with customers.

In order to do well for practical assessments, Lyna studied and practiced to familiarise herself  with the  skills that she had learnt.

“I don’t remember ever having to ask Lyna to practise and revise the skills that were taught to her,” Cheryl recalled how she was impressed with Lyna’s initiative and how hard she worked to improve herself during her training.

Elaborating, the self-taught entrepreneur said: “You’ll always find Lyna practicing nail-filing, applying varnish, or even massaging, on the other manicurists to get more practice.”

“Lyna’s gentle, diligent demeanour made her well-liked among her fellow colleagues, who are always glad to point out her mistakes and share the tips they accumulated over their years of experience,” Cheryl shared.

A few other single mothers in the salon would also lend a listening ear to Lyna’s problems and advise her accordingly for matters they could relate to, and help Lyna integrate into her new workplace better.

“Career Trial allowed me to see Lyna’s positive attitude and her drive in seeking continual improvement. I also saw how well she got along with her new colleagues,” affirmed Cheryl, who offered Lyna a full-time position as a Trainee Manicurist upon completion of the Career Trial.

Having gone through some customer service training, Lyna now faces customers with greater confidence.

The social enterprise’s founder hopes that The Nail Social will continue supporting and training underprivileged women in Singapore to enable them to find employment eventually.

“The funding support for Career Trial ensures trainees are provided with an allowance during their training, and helped to mitigate our operating costs,” she shared. “Our end goal is to provide at-risk women employment so that they can be self-sufficient.”

Of her employer who understands a need to juggle work responsibilities and provide support for her daughter, Lyna said: “Cheryl recognises that some of us may be our families’ sole caregivers and offers us working hours that are flexible.”

She continued, “When my daughter was sick, I was given time off without having my salary cut so that I could spend more time to take care of her and that is really important to me.”

With this newfound source of steady income, and an empathetic employer who has given her the opportunity to upgrade her skills in the beauty industry without having to pay exorbitant fees, Lyna is hopeful about the future.

On how her life had turned for the better, Lyna added, “I really can’t ask for more!” Lyna is now looking at advancing her manicuring skills.

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