Sally Harris is the first member of the pilot program I CAN with MYOB to graduate from her Certificate IV Accounting and Bookkeeping qualification. And what a journey it’s been.

In 2017 Sally was selected to study the bookkeeping course as part of the I CAN with MYOB program – a collaborative venture between Monarch Institute, MYOB, Infoxchange and the Association of Accounting Technicians, which gives people with a wide range of ages, cultural and social backgrounds, and abilities the opportunity to become qualified bookkeepers. This program is suited to participants who have experienced barriers to education or employment and are committed to securing a career in the bookkeeping industry.

We chatted with Sally about her experience studying with Monarch Institute, and what kind of challenges she met along the way.

Why did you decide to go back to study?

“Twelve years ago as a family, we moved from Queensland to Victoria, and I left a fantastic job and decided to concentrate on helping my three teenage children grow and develop. By the time I was able to return to the workforce I had developed mobility issues resulting in an ongoing disability. I tried applying locally for jobs, but it became a real challenge.  I applied for the I CAN with MYOB Program, and it gave me some hope – if I could get a qualification, it might improve my job chances.”

What helped you get through the course?

“My husband was an amazing support! He cooked for me often and gave me as much time as possible, so that I could keep my head in the books. And the result? He decided to study the course also! One reason was so that he could be my study buddy, but also in the future we would like to work together. We make a great team.

My son gave us a crash refresher course in maths, and my husband took off days at work so that I could participate in any opportunity that MYOB and Monarch organised.

Monarch Institute has also supplied us with a trainer who has made an incredible difference. Melissa Nettle was always supporting and encouraging us and she goes the extra distance to make each of us feel special. Before this course I hardly used Facebook, but through Melissa’s encouragement I joined the closed Facebook group with all the other students, gained a voice and felt more confident to participate in the group discussions about the topic. I never felt alone.”

The good, the bad and the ugly?

“There have been some very overwhelming and challenging moments when it has all felt like too much and maybe a lot harder than I anticipated, but even real employment will always present these challenging opportunities. So to progress forward, I began to set goals, by visualising that I was already in a work environment where deadlines are a normal part of the workday and so they had to be met. I also found that trying to work as a group and encourage teamwork helped me. Melissa kept us all on track and encouraged team members to join and help each other out all through the course.

What did I enjoy? One of the most impressionable occasions for me was the “MYOB partners connect” event that we were invited to attend. I must admit that I was so raw, I didn’t know what networking was, so I totally blew that opportunity! But I was so impressed just watching and taking in how much effort they put into problem solving and listening to them openly discussing what changes and challenges needed to be met. It really helped me get an insight into people’s different work experiences in bookkeeping, and helped me create a vision for where i want to be.”

How have your job prospects changed now that you have a qualification?

“I would dearly love to work for someone else first and be able to gain real experience and have the personal business as a long-term plan. And now that I’ve handed in my final assignment, I’m feeling much more confident to put myself out there and know I have the capacity to be an asset to some business!

I’m so keen and determined, I’m even willing to work on a voluntary basis for a short time to get experience. But I’ll be reminding the business owners that the advantage of taking on someone like me, is that I’m not set in my ways so I’m easier to train according to what the business requires and expects. Meanwhile, my son has started his own small electrical business so I will definitely take the opportunity to practice and gain experience by doing his bookkeeping first!”.

Advice to others who are considering applying for the program in the future?

“Go for it with all you’ve got and don’t look back! You can be given many gifts in life but they often run out and become short-lived, but this program can set you up for life even when you are older. Not only does it improve your work skills but it also improves your personal skills, building your confidence and being a team player”.

The ICAN with MYOB program runs full-time for 12 months. It provides students with the digital skills they need, not only to become bookkeepers but to thrive in the digital economy. To find out more about the I CAN program and read more student stories, head to https://www.infoxchange.org/au/icanwithMYOB