Working wardrobe

Our clothes are a critical aspect of getting and keeping a job, and at NOVA we take it seriously. From the start, we’re expected to follow the NOVA dress code – which is business casual – whether we’re in the training room or out and about.

Campbelltown and Springwood NOVA Transition trainees have been talking about workplace clothing and have some tips to share. What we wear at NOVA Transition is very important because it says a lot about us. The way we dress represents who we are, but it also represents NOVA.

We feel good about ourselves when we are well presented. We also need to be ready for a job interview at a moment’s notice. A potential employer will judge your character in the first few seconds from the way you look, so making a good first impression is important.

What happens at NOVA Transition?

You’ve heard that NOVA Transition is about exploring your job choices and getting work ready. To give you an idea of what it’s really like, Rockdale trainees share some of what they’ve been up to this year. 


In our orientation program, we get to know each other, build friendships and learn about what’s expected at NOVA Transition. This year at Rockdale, we welcomed new trainees Rodger, George and Steven, and new Job Coach, Sam, to join second-year trainees Michelle and Alex.

Find your transferable skills and stand tall

Corey, a second-year trainee at Engadine NOVA Transition has come a long way since he first started at NOVA. He and his Job Coach Karen explain how transferable skills helped him on the journey and how Corey learned how to identify his transferable skills.

But first: what are transferable skills? They’re any skills and abilities you have acquired during your life that you can use in a job. You might have developed these skills and abilities anywhere – at school, in leisure activities like reading, hobbies or sports; at home or at NOVA Transition. The trick is to see how you could use them in a job.

Learnings from NOVA Transition

The Transition training room is a hands-on learning environment where we focus not just on work skills, but also on behaviour, attitude and physical wellbeing to support a working lifestyle. 

As these stories from St Marys NOVA Transition trainees show, learning happens on many levels. Trainees might practise making decisions as a group while they explore acceptable workplace behaviour, for example; or pick up technology tips while learning about clothes for work.

What's my scene?

So you want a job, but you’re not quite sure what sort of work is the right ‘fit’ for you? Rest assured, you’re not alone! At NOVA Transition we provide loads of opportunities to learn about industries and try out different jobs through work experience.

But you can begin to explore what's best for you right away. There are plenty of online tools available to help guide you. NOVA’s own Let’s Get Working website suggests 10 questions to ask yourself, and the first few make an ideal starting point.

Transitions: why they're important

Making the transition from school to work is a big step. In this video, NOVA Employment’s CEO, Martin Wren, explains why having support during this transition is so important for success.

The social skills we learn at school are also core skills for work, says Martin:

  • Turn up on time
  • Get something done
  • Be part of a team.

But these skills can be lost if students don’t continue to practice them after school finishes (if you don’t go on to work or further study, for example). 

What does this button do?

Would you know how to sew on a button? And what does that have to do with getting a job anyway? 

While skills for independent living are important in finding and keeping a great job, learning to sew on a button might, in fact, have more to do with becoming employed than you'd think. 

When Bankstown NOVA Transition trainee Talia lost a button on her jacket, the group used the opportunity to do a sewing class. Together they bought a sewing kit from Lincraft, and Job coach Paul brought fabric from home to practise with.

Personal wellbeing: it's a balancing act

Health and wellbeing: it’s something we tend to reflect on at this time as we take a break from the hustle and bustle of the year.

Our wellbeing impacts everything we do, which is one reason why looking after ourselves is a focus at NOVA Transition – not just now, but right through the year. At Katoomba NOVA Transition, we explored why it’s important to maintain good health and wellbeing.

Three benefits of work experience

NOVA Transition places great value on work experience. Among other things, it allows young job seekers to taste life at work, develop their career goals – and realise what they have to offer, which is a terrific confidence booster. 

Windsor NOVA Transition trainees, Bethany, Amber and Alex did work experience at Hawkesbury District Health Service (Hawkesbury Hospital), learning about roles and tasks in various departments.

‘It was really interesting learning about the different chemicals and how they are used to clean different areas,’ said Bethany who hopes to work in aged care. ‘For example, red-bottle chemicals are only to be used in bathrooms and blue-bottle chemicals are for the room only.’ 

Loving learning at Livvi's

NOVA Transition has a big focus on high-quality work experience that provides our trainees with a taste of the working world and the skills needed to thrive in it.

Livvi's Cafe in Elara Estate is one of the fantastic businesses Rouse Hill Nova Transition has partnered with. Owners Brendon and Debbie have been teaching us some valuable skills about food hygiene, customer service and hospitality.

The cafe is part of the Touched by Olivia Foundation and a percentage of each coffee sold goes towards helping to build inclusive play equipment for children with disabilities. ‘Our reason for existence is to help the Touched by Olivia Foundation build inclusive play spaces,’ says Brendon. ‘We also have a goal to help young people with disabilities transition into open employment.’ 

The best day of my life!

More than one graduate of NOVA Transition nominated last Wednesday - graduation day - as the best day of their life! And it’s not hard to see why.

It was a day of pure celebration for the graduates of 2017 attending a three-course lunch with live entertainment, awards and dancing at the Catholic Club in Campbelltown.

We celebrated more than 80 young people with disability graduating from NOVA’s two-year transition-to-work program and gaining their Certificate 1 in Work Education. (See previous blogs for more details of some lessons learned during the training, including work-ready skills, such as goal setting, resume writing and interview practice, and life skills, like healthy eating, healthy mind and travel training.)

A fair go

Just imagine: you’ve landed a job, you’re starting to earn money, maybe you’ve even moved into your own place – life is sweet! And then…

…you accidentally spend the rent money; or you lose money through a scam, or you’re not being treated fairly at work.

Luckily, there are ways to avoid these situations, or minimise the damage if they arise. To find out how, Hornsby NOVA Transition hosted Windsor, Rouse Hill and Blacktown outlets for some interactive sessions with Arienne Bourne from Fair Trading NSW.

Lights, camera, action!

Industry visit to ABC Studios and Media Production

At NOVA Transition, we research industries and learn about different job types experientially – by seeing and feeling what it’s like. We learn through exploring in fun, engaging way. So when Liverpool Transition trainees were presented with an opportunity to tour ABC Studios and Media Production they jumped at the opportunity.

The day was planned from beginning to end (all part of our learning here in Liverpool). We read the tour rules, found out how to get there and mapped out our way to Ultimo. We even appointed our cameraman for the day: Jordan, one of our trainees who is keen to explore photography and social media as one of his job choices.

Having a ball in Windsor

Friday the 13th might be unlucky for some but certainly not for the trainees of Windsor, Richmond, Blacktown, Rouse Hill, Parramatta and Hornsby who were treated to a professional coaching clinic at Windsor tennis courts.

It was the most beautiful spring day and we all made sure we had sunscreen, hats and water bottles. We knew we were in for a day of fun when our coaches, Tony and Arvind arrived with a boot packed with racquets, balls, nets, hula-hoops and a BBQ! Between them, Tony and Arvind have 42 years of coaching experience and were recently awarded Tennis NSW’s Coaching Excellence Award: we were in good hands.

For young people with disability, being able to take part in social activities, access local facilities and maintain a healthy lifestyle is key to long term independence and wellbeing. It's one of the reasons that NOVA is passionate about promoting inclusiveness. Tennis is a terrific way to tick each of those boxes.  

Hospitality how-to

Hospitality is a great career choice for many NOVA Transition trainees. Ben, Johnny, Manisha and Yunn from Blacktown NOVA Transition recently did a four-week barista course to develop the waiting skills they would need for work in a café or club.

You might think that a barista course is about making coffee, but there’s a lot more to working in hospitality than making the perfect latte. Understanding the tricks of the trade means you can look professional. For example, you can:

  • carry a heavy tray of glasses without spilling or dropping anything
  • see when a customer has had too much alcohol
  • carry three plates to the table at a time
  • and more!

Getting technical at the Microsoft store

Learning about technology is an important component of NOVA Transition training. But at Richmond and Windsor NOVA Transition, we learned about much more than technology on a recent industry visit to the Microsoft Flagship Store.

Before we even began to look at Microsoft products, we practised our travel training to get into the city, and then had to negotiate the hustle and bustle of Pitt Street Mall.

When we arrived at the store we were given a card on a lanyard with activities to explore the different products. As we moved around the store, we tried:

The sweet taste of success

The path to employment can feel like a long road. But that makes the taste of success all the sweeter when you reach your goal.

Three young men – Pissett, Lochlan and Hayden – are now enjoying life in the workforce following their NOVA Transition training. In fact, NOVA Transition gave them a big leg up on the journey to employment. Lochlan says he developed good skills in customer-service, time management and organisation through NOVA training and work experience; while Hayden says that NOVA also helped him to learn how to live more independently.

Experiential learning for independent living

Knowledge is experience. Everything else is just information. – Einstein

At NOVA Transition, we focus a lot on learning experientially – through doing, rather than by reading or watching. It’s a great way to build up our skills and confidence so we’re ready to get a job. But experiential learning is also really important to prepare ourselves for living independently.

At Caringbah and Engadine NOVA Transition, we learn how to

  • cook for ourselves
  • get around on public transport
  • be wise with money.

Getting the heads up on mental health

Award-winning singer-songwriter Lucy Neville, 21, has experienced the stigma and discrimination associated with having a mental illness.

But the Beyond Blue volunteer guest speaker had some positive messages about dealing with anxiety when she visited Windsor NOVA Transition recently.

Anxiety had been part of Lucy’s life from the age of 13. She would assume the worst of every situation. She would avoid social situations, and was often crippled with feelings of paranoia and panic if forced to catch public transport or meet new people.

Making small talk

Being able to make conversation with others at work – whether they’re your colleagues or your customers – is important for finding and keeping a job. Here at NOVA Transition Penrith, we regularly practise our communication skills as we work towards becoming job-ready.

Making small talk comes more naturally to some people than others. The good news is that it’s something that you can get better at with practice.

So what exactly is small talk and why is it so important?

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