Starting my career whilst having a disability

Guest BloggerAdvice, Final Year, First Year, Graduates, On Placement, Postgraduate, Second Year

An open laptop next to a potted plant on a desk

2020 was quite a difficult year, but hopefully I can spread some positivity in this blog post by talking about my experience of starting my career whilst learning I have Multiple Sclerosis. Below I’ve shared some tips for what really helped me and which you might benefit from too!

Starting your career is always going to be a challenging but a rewarding journey considering the amount skills you’ll gain such as time management, leadership, collaborative and communication skills. It’s great how much support we have at Aston University. For example, we can head straight to the Aston Futures platform to see the vast number of opportunities available – so many of these are inclusive too.

For myself personally, I found it quite difficult to accept my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis when I was in my first year of university. I felt a lot of my prospects and potential would be shattered without any prior knowledge of what resources were available – I even had thoughts of dropping out of university as I felt I was incompetent enough now considering the condition I now have. This is before I realised how much the Enabling Team support services at the university would help me.

Talk to the Enabling Team

I would highly recommend to all affected with any condition to contact the Enabling Team because even when I felt as if the whole world was falling on me, having the option to go and have an update chat with Deb Tovey (Disability Advisor) was priceless. I cannot even explain how much it helped me.

The Enabling Team have helped me significantly in terms of my academic and employability support and notified me of any adjustments that could be made available. The team can help you very quickly if you need it, because no one should be made to feel they are unable to talk due to fear of what it may look like – the best thing to do is to embrace the positivity rather than the negativity of circumstances no matter how difficult it may be.

Do a placement

Never be afraid to do a placement because it is a life-changing experience. I’m currently on placement as one of the Vice Presidents for the Students’ Union – it has been a brilliant and supportive environment with lots of opportunities.

Talk to employers about your disability

Believe in yourself and never feel afraid to share your disability with employers. There are so many supportive individuals that you will find in the working environment, so have a small chat with those you work in collaboration with if you feel comfortable to do so as it will then be easier to make possible adjustments with the knowledge of those you work with.

Check out the resources on the Students’ Union website

A disability webpage has been created for the Aston Students’ Union website which gives awareness for all students. We list on there various schemes that can be applied for e.g. Disabled Students Allowance and Access to Work if you’re eligible, as well as contact details of people and support services you can access.

Make use of the university’s services

Never feel afraid to use the wellbeing services at the university regardless of whether you have a disability or not – they’re amazing services, that you can access anonymously.

Thank you for reading this blog post. I have been wanting to share my experience for a long time, so I hope you found it useful to read about. My final tip for you is to never give up!

Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

Written by Balraj Purewal, Vice President of Student Activities