Lorraine Ngwenya on the ‘Useful Link’ between getting started and starting right
“I've always had a passion for helping young people and in 2015, I made the decision to dedicate my time to doing so,” begins Lorrain Ngwenya, founder of youth-focussed organisation, Useful Link, “I empower young people by running workshops around employment, leadership and personal development in schools, universities and youth organisations.”
“I serve their young people, so my clients are these youth organisations and educational institutions.”
Through Useful Link, Lorraine shares her essential skills and experiential knowledge as a facilitator & emcee; by designing, developing and delivering workshops for young people looking for that extra bit of guidance and support.
She has recently diversified to include one-on-one support as part of her offerings.
“The one-on-one sessions are customised and tailored to suit the needs of individual young people who don’t have the time or capacity to attend workshops, these are delivered in person or over Skype,” says Lorraine.
“A lot of people don’t know what the next steps are after Uni, they’re looking for jobs, but don’t have any direction or particular focus.”
“As a result, they’re not getting anywhere,” she shares, “So when I sit down with them, we look at their resume writing, interview skills and other essential skills for landing that first job or that dream job.”
“The process covers off some of the essential questions such as – ‘What are your skills? What are the opportunities out there? And what are your goals? And what are the steps to achieving these goals?’”
Lorraine’s impressive resume includes being the youngest member of the board of Directors for the SDA Victorian church, a dedicated volunteer with youth-focussed projects and member of the Youth Advisory Group at CMY.
As a young entrepreneur, she has emceed events for organisations such as the Red Cross and has run workshops for the City of Shepparton, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, and AIESEC Melbourne University.
Lorraine also counts the relationships she’s built along the way as one of her greatest successes.
“This young lady approached me because she’d studied Psychology at uni and wanted to get into the marketing, media and communications field,” says Lorraine,
“We spoke about how she could get into that space, came up with a plan and steadily worked towards it. Now she’s reached a point where I’ve contracted her to do my media and promotions.”
“We’ve done some work recently where I actually said to her that I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without her and she feels the same!”
“This is my favourite part of my job – when I work with young people and then I get to follow up and see that they’ve implemented the things we’ve spoken of and they’ve started selling their products or achieved their goals in some way,” she says.
The Enterprising Spirit
Lorraine was also one of the youngest participants of the Enterprising Tarneit program in 2016. Although an established businesswoman by the time she came to participate in the start-up intensive program, Lorraine feels like she acquired some much-needed structure and key skills such as cash forecasting and financial statements from her participation.
“The biggest and most valuable thing about the Enterprising Tarneit program was that you get a mentor,” she shares, “This means that now you’ve got someone who you meet with regularly to find out where you’re at and what you need help with. Plus, this person shares their business journey with you.”
“Before the program, I approached new clients by sending a random email. I didn’t call or make contact with anyone beyond that email” says Lorraine,
“As a result, nobody ever got back to me! I was wasting my time and getting nowhere.”
“My mentor taught me the basics of pitching and how to land new business. ‘Pick up the phone, don’t give out all the information there is to give in that first conversation, try to meet prospective clients face-to-face’,” she shares,
“These were invaluable lessons in relationship building. And now I’m proficient with getting to know what clients are doing, to find out how that fits with what I’m doing and how I can partner with them best.”
“After that approach, I started building more relationships and landing more business.”
Working With Young People
Lorraine has always been true to her passion for working with young people and her future plans are no different.
“I’m working on doing more workshops in schools with a younger cohort, say students in Year 11 and 12, to get them to starting to think about how to build key job and life skills in high school,” says Lorraine,
“And also, employ young people to run those workshops in schools. Young facilitators, who are still at university, can start building facilitation and presentations skills sooner in their career.”
For more information on Lorraine and Useful Link, visit the website here.