The dos and don’ts of applying for graduate work…with a disability
Kate graduated from a Bachelor of Creative Arts in 2014 and has worked in marketing and as a video editor. In the past, she has mentored young Indigenous students to progress their education as part of the DARE mentor program.
Did you know that 15% of people in the workforce have some form of disability? According to Australian Network on Disability, graduates with a disability take longer to gain full-time employment compared to those who don’t have a disability.
For the first twelve months of my degree, I worked two days a week for a local charity that raised money to provide sporting equipment for people with disabilities. It took a while for me to adjust to this job as I had to develop time management skills to be able to handle the pressure of juggling work with study. These are some of the ways I organised myself and became more efficient:
- Have two appointment diaries: one on the wall or in a place you walk past a lot, such as your fridge or near the front door and one you can take with you everywhere you go to remind yourself of everything you have to do. This could be either on an electronic device such as your phone, tablet or a paper diary.
- Create a priorities list each day to make sure all the really important stuff gets done.
- Make a to-do list and tick each task off as you go. This really worked for me when working on assignments and to help me meet deadlines.
- Keep your study space tidy and make sure your desk is not too cluttered.
In my second year at uni, I left this job to put more time and energy into my degree as it became more hands-on and required more time and commitment. Now I’m at the end of my degree, it’s time to start looking for work again. For those also about to go out into the world, I’ve created a list of dos and don’ts to help us through the searching process:
- Keep actively looking online and at other sources to keep up to date with what jobs are available. If you think you can do the job, apply for it!
- Keep your resume up to date, including any extracurricular activities you do while studying at USQ.
- Create a LinkedIn account. This is like an online resume that will help you network with other people in your industry or who have similar interests and help employers find you.
- Attend as many workshops and seminars as you can, as these will help you gain insight and break into the industry you want to get into.
- Be upfront about your disability – but focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.
- Don’t forget to keep your resume and LinkedIn profile up to date.
- Don’t leave looking for jobs to the last minute.
- Don’t just spend your time at uni studying; make sure you do other things to help you gain industry experience, such as volunteer work.
- Don’t sell yourself short. If you know you can’t do something because of your disability, look for a way around that task.
When it comes to looking for work, it is important to stay on top of your game and to keep applying for different opportunities until you get what you want. Don’t let self-doubt and those icky negative thoughts take over. Deep down you know what you want, you just need to have faith in yourself and believe you can achieve great things in life.
I’d love to hear your dos and don’ts for applying for graduate work with a disability.