Students with disabilities give career advice - University of South Australia

Uploaded by UniSouthAustralia on 18.06.2012


My name is Jennifer Watts-Sampson
for UniSA, I did post-graduate in Rehabilitation Counselling.

Ryan Neville. I studied Visual Communication with Honours
and I now work as a Graphic Designer.

My name's Sheelagh and I'm a first year PHD student
here at the University and this is Nina, my guide dog.
Hot tips for getting a job.
I think, talk to family and friends, network
find out what's happening out there.
Get into volunteer work.
I think the other thing that I would say is to ring
you know, there's a job ad and you're looking at that
and you've got this long list of dot points about all the criteria
but I would actually ring the actual agency or the business and say
"Can you tell me what a typical day looks like in this job?"
and as they run through things, you can think to yourself
"Yeah, I can do that... that... oh that fits with job place modifications...
that bit I need to disclose my disability for, etcetera."
So, you actually know, but when you get into that interview
you're actually able to sit there and say "My understanding of the job is..."
"and how I can do this is..."
and you're actually showing that you're very prepared for this
you're really confident. Disability is not an issue.

Well, when I was first applying for jobs as a Graphic Designer
I never really disclosed that I was in a wheelchair
and the only time I really disclosed that was if I got offered an interview
then I'd ring up and ask if they were wheelchair accessible.

My disclosure generally comes when
I'm actually in the interview process.
I mean, when I go into a workplace, it's obvious that I have a disability.
So, it was a matter of being able to
actually put that employer at ease and be honest and open with them.
Now I can actually tell employers that because I actually have a disability
that gives me a keen awareness of occupational health and safety
because I need to ensure that I'm safe in the workplace
and those that work around me are safe.
I mean, I think that's a really positive thing to know
as a person with a disability, is what you bring.

Me, I have a vision impairment, so I can get away with a bit more in some ways.
I don't think I need to disclose my disability
necessarily in an application
I may need to disclose it prior to an interview
because they might ask me to do a written test or something
so I need to be prepared to be able to do that.

I was actually going to these jobs, I was putting in these applications
but I wasn't getting anywhere because I didn't have any work experience
I couldn't actually show the employer what I had been doing
that I could work effectively in the workplace.

Volunteering while you're studying is a really important part in getting a job.
It proves to your future employer
that you're able to do the actual bits of the job that you say you can do.
Rather than saying "I'm sure I can do it"
you actually have evidence to say "Look, I've been doing it for six months".

Being Graphic Design, there's not a lot... they're small studios.
A lot of them are two, three people working there.
They're normally upstairs, you know, above a pub
or in small home offices that just aren't wheelchair friendly
So, that was the main difficulty I suppose
in finding a company that was either big enough or
in a modern office building that was wheelchair accessible.
But, I would say, just because they don't have access at the time
don't let that stop you applying, because they might be
really willing just to make it accessible for you.

Workplace modifications is a program that's government funded
that you can access after you've been enrolled with an employment agency.
It means that an assessment is done on the future workplace.
We look at what sort of equipment, what sort of software
what sort of tools, whatever you need to be able to do that job.

My knowledge on that process
was really valuable in actually pushing that forward
and helping to educate the employer, so
really, really valuable for a person with a disability
to be up to speed with what's happening and how the process works
to actually make that happen for themselves.

When the interviewer says "Well, how are you going to do word processing?"
you say "Well, I do it like everybody else
but workplace modifications will pay for me to get this program
put on the computer so that I'm able to do every part of the job."
So, that really opens the door
they will take you on board because you're not going to cost them anything
you're actually going to be an asset rather than a liability.

It's been a good investment for my employer.
You just have to ask them and they will tell you that
I've done amazing things because of
because of what I've brought to the role
and how pleased I am that over time
employers have been able to actually see "me" and what I bring.