I love sitting outside with a good coffee, a pastry and digging into an enthralling book or playing dungeons and dragons. I also can’t wait to start traveling again. There’s so much of the world to explore and I want to see as much of it as possible in my life.
In the future, I want to work in a policy-centric role related to the curriculum or assessment within education. I want to advocate for people with disabilities and ensure that we’re represented in every level of government and involved in important initiatives and decisions.
What I expected
I assumed it was going to be different to anything else I’d done, so I expected a challenge. I figured there’d be meetings and writing, and a fast-paced environment, but I had no clue what my day-to-day would look like. That made starting the program intimidating, since I was stepping into the unknown.
My experience with the disability pathway
The best part of the disability pathway recruitment process was being able to speak to a representative with a disability at the Assessment Centre.
The Graduate Disability Liaison officer facilitated a meet and greet with my new manager just prior to the beginning of the program. This took some of the pressure off me having to explain everything to my manager on my first day. My manager was very accommodating and was able to set up adjustments before I started.
After starting the program, my fellow disability pathway graduates and I requested workshops to help improve the pathway. As a result, some new programs were created, including pathway formal and informal catch ups and a mentoring program involving mentors with a disability.
I’ve appreciated having other people I can talk to regarding disability and their experiences, and my mentor has been incredibly supportive.
What I experienced
It was definitely challenging! But it was a positive challenge. I feel like I had the opportunity to develop new skills and hone existing ones. I enjoyed all the people, and the workplace was a lot more flexible than I was expecting, which really helped me feel less stressed. It gave me quite a bit of autonomy.
When I first started, I enjoyed that there was always something new to learn. I appreciated tagging along to different meetings, which gave me insight to other projects and work being done in our division.
Our team had meetings in the morning where we would discuss our work for the day and have a bit of a catch up. It always helped me feel invigorated for the day ahead and gave me a bit of structure, which can be difficult to find when working from home.
Who I worked with
My first rotation was the Department of Education and Training (DET).
My second rotation was with the Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS). It’s been a very different experience, but also one I’ve enjoyed.
Everyone is really nice and is there to help you succeed. People care about making sure you’re doing something you enjoy.
A highlight for me was getting to know other graduates throughout the year and building new friendships. That alone made the program well worth it.
How I worked in 2020
It was weird working from home at first. It makes things a little more complicated – you can’t just go up to someone and tap on their shoulder to speak with them.
Conversations become more formal because you usually end up having to book a virtual meeting. I had to be more assertive and ask for feedback or more work because it was difficult to get in touch with some people. Ironically though, meeting with other grads has been easier, because we don’t have to work out where the best physical location is to meet.
Working from home improved my work life balance. It’s nice to just shut down my computer at the end of the day and walk into the next room to start discussing evening plans without having to commute on a packed train.
I’ve had some adjustments to help with my role. I was given a sit/stand desk and footrest to make sure my workstation was set up ergonomically. I’ve been given a fair bit of autonomy to control my workdays, which has made it easy to manage other obligations or having longer rest periods.
Advice for future applicants
Go for it! You never know what might happen, what twists and turns may await you. And remember that enthusiasm is key.
Also, wear runners for your commute and just change to a pair of flats at the office – genius!
Advice for anyone considering the disability pathway
It’s worth applying through the disability pathway. You still have to advocate for yourself, but the pathway is a good start. It helps foster your capacity to make the most of your graduate program. It’s also a great way to build your own friendships and support networks.