Conor Merrigan has worked on a rolling contract with Westpac since 2019, and is one of the many Jigsaw trainees who has transitioned from on the job training and work experience to full time work in a mainstream workplace. Now, he is now officially an employee of Westpac, working in their head office as an Associate in the Records Management Department.
Conor takes us through his employment journey from joining Jigsaw and securing a paid traineeship, to contracting with Westpac, and, ultimately, converting his contract work into permanent employment.
“I started at Jigsaw back in 2017. In that first year, I also worked on a three month contract with AMP and it was a full-time job. I got paid for it. And Jigsaw thought I was good at it, so they gave me a paid position. I did paid work with Jigsaw in 2018, and then about a year later, the Westpac contract came up. This contract was originally for 6 months, which was later extended by 12 months due to the amount of progress I had made working there. The contract was extended several times until March 2023, when they offered me a permanent position.”
In his permanent role, Conor works two days at home and three days in the Westpac offices in Kent Street, in Sydney’s CBD. The forty minute commute by bus was one of the many differences between working at Jigsaw and working in a mainstream environment. However, Conor felt he has adapted well, with the support of his Westpac colleagues.
“I’d never had a five day job before then, so it felt a bit different. Westpac was much bigger and had lots more people than Jigsaw, and I was doing more hours during the week. After a few months I got well used to it. Everyone was really friendly, they all helped me do the best I can in my job.
“There is one other person in the Records Management team, and she’s been doing it for a long time. She’s been very helpful. And we both report to a People Leader. I have meetings with my People Leader once a fortnight, and a team meeting once a week.”
Conor was just over a year into his time contracting at Westpac when the pandemic changed the professional landscape. He had to adapt again.
“I was actually going into the office five days before COVID hit. And then I wasn’t allowed to go to the office any more. They said to work remotely. I came back to Jigsaw, and I worked remotely from Jigsaw. And a few months later, I was alternating between working at Westpac and working remotely, either from Jigsaw or home.”
Post-COVID, and as a full-time Westpac employee, Conor still has support from Jigsaw. “I still catch up with Michael Summers [Jigsaw Transitions Coordinator]. I have phone calls with him occasionally. He still checks in with me, once a week or once a fortnight.”
He feels he has benefitted from Jigsaw both personally and professionally.
“Before Jigsaw, I’d had a few casual jobs and I also did a few TAFE courses. But I hadn’t had much luck with job interviews. I was really struggling with them. I think Jigsaw has been great for me because I’ve learnt new skills and made new friends. I’ve gotten more confident in areas like teamwork and communication.”
Conor’s improved confidence and communications skills are reaping dividends in his current role, as he continues to grow in experience. For example, when he finds himself in a situation where he has to problem-solve or ask for help, he knows he can manage.
“If I don’t feel confident about something I’ll ask someone, but there are times when I feel like I can handle it myself as well.”
As far as his future goals are concerned, Conor is keen to keep developing his skills and experience in the supportive Records Management team at Westpac.
“I think I’ll stay at Westpac for a few more years and see where that takes me in the future.”
Jigsaw is a social enterprise that provides an innovative pathway to open employment for people with disability. By embedding a comprehensive skill-based training program within our commercial document and data management business, Jigsaw enables people with disability to achieve their employment goals at their own pace. Jigsaw’s holistic approach starts from the very basics of core work skills and supports trainees all the way through to transition to open employment with ongoing support and coaching once they have transitioned.