Eirini Antonpolou, a Get into graduate from Greece, is a nominee for the first ever Global Award, which recognises an individual who has been supported by The Prince’s Trust network outside of the UK.
"My participation in the programme was down to fate and karma. My best friend sent me information about the open call for the Get into programme and I was sceptical. Why would a company want to potentially offer me a job without first submitting a CV and cover letter? It seemed way too simple.
"Up until September 2017, I was studying my undergraduate degree in Finance and Regional Development in Athens. While at university, I had no choice but to work so I was a supervisor for 15 people at a souvlaki restaurant, but I wasn't working legally, receiving cash in hand. For three years, I worked every day, sometimes up to 10 hours per day, with no time off. I was working to support my parents as my dad had suffered a heart attack.
"I also needed to pay for my brother’s extra-curricular tuition which many people in Greece need to pass their high school exams. I worked from 4pm until 2am and then went home to sleep. Because of this, I didn’t attend lectures and had to study in my own time and by myself. I graduated last year. It was a well-paid job and I had a good relationship with my boss, but I couldn’t continue – I was exhausted.”
In Greece, many young people are in the position where they can be financially supported temporarily by their parents while they are looking for work, but for Eirini this was not the case. She worked to survive but could not continue under these circumstances for much longer.
After she graduated, Eirini sent out hundreds of CV’s to potential employers focusing on finance-related jobs, but she was invited to only three interviews. She wasn’t successful in any.
Following the training, Eirini was offered a job at Vodafone and six months down the line she tells us that she has learned so much about herself and plans to have a long-term career with the company. She has even been offered a promotion after six months from Sales Advisor to Internet Specialist.
"I used to have low self-esteem and self-worth because I always saw such a high number of candidates at interviews. But I also realised that my behaviour at interviews was all wrong. During the Get into training, I learned where I went wrong at interviews but rectified this by changing my body language, keeping eye contact, the way I dressed and by being more professional. It was the programme that taught me these lessons, as well as Vodafone. But I learned so much more.
Eirini also has her own goals and she is determined to achieve them.
"Now I am earning a greatsalary at Vodafone, I can help my family, buy the things I want and also save. In a few years, I want to study a Masters or MBA. I don’t want to leave Vodafone – in fact, I want to progress and this is why I want to study further. I am out to prove that I’m worthy of the position and want to achieve so much more. Ultimately, I’d like to become a trainer so that I can show people like me that when you have determination, you can make anything happen."