One of our fantastic graduates who has accessed career support through USEP consultant Natalie from Mylestones Employment responded to some questions, providing insight into her journey toward a graduate career.
What was your field of study & why?
I studied a Bachelor of Government and International Relations graduating in 2017. As someone who grew up regionally with a passion for politics, I was apprehensive about relocating to Griffith University and having to undertake a 3-year program.
What are you mostly excited about when finishing university and getting into work?
The thought of graduating was both an exciting and extremely daunting idea at the same time. Fundamentally it demonstrated I was able to achieve something that I repeatedly thought was unattainable.
I was also incredibly excited about the opportunity to put the skills I had learnt throughout my program to practical use. In equal measures, as challenging as university was, I was nervous about leaving the routine and comfort of Griffith and venturing into the ‘real world’.
Throughout my whole degree I continuously compared myself to my peers and so the prospect of entering employment was extremely intimidating as I saw my peers as being more competitive candidates than myself.
Let’s talk disability – what’s your strategy for sharing your personal information?
Prior to applying for my degree I had decided to not disclose information of my disability, due to prior negative experiences that arose from revealing information about my condition. This wariness was established after several negative experiences, most notably resulting in me not getting a job as the potential employer acknowledged they didn’t see me as a competitive candidate compared to others without disabilities.
This changed however once I realised the opportunities, in terms of services and scholarships, that were available to me should I disclose. Through disclosing I was awarded a scholarship to offset education costs and was also able to have access to a Disabilities Service Officer throughout the duration of my degree.
This turned out to be invaluable as I met with my Officer several times a semester to discuss the upcoming challenges of the semester, strategies to mitigate these and also reasonable adjustments for my examinations. My Disabilities Service Officer also assisted me when my health deteriorated to ensure that I kept up with my studies.
You have accessed the USEP service. Was this beneficial for you, and if so, how or why?
The above all changed when I signed up with the USEP program and was placed with my University Specialist Employment Officer.
Through the program, and meeting fortnightly with Natalie, I have learnt invaluable skills about how to disclose of my disability, what employment opportunities are out there, mock interview techniques and resume/application feedback.
Prior to signing up to the program I was in a negative job that was having an adverse impact on my health. Natalie equipped me with the skills to help navigate the changes I faced in this role. Upon leaving the job I was able to gain an internship through the USEP program at a local MP office.
This experience proved to be invaluable and I have been lucky enough to accept a graduate position in the Australian Public Service starting 2019.
Furthermore Natalie’s guidance has meant I now have a better understanding of my rights in a work place, how to communicate with management as issues arise and how to communicate the reasonable adjustments I may require to overcome my barriers to employment.
I would recommend the USEP program to all students hoping to gain supportive and fulfilling employment in their field of studies. The program has allowed access to employment opportunities otherwise unattainable.
Thank you to the student for providing feedback. Are you interested in seeing what the possibilities are for you as a graduate living with a disability? Read more about USEP.