Taking your first step into the world of work is daunting for many, especially if you are managing a disability or long-term health condition.
As a hearing-impaired graduate, I know how scary it can be to leave the education bubble where you have an established support structure in place and are surrounded by people who understand your needs. But disabled students and graduates have a fantastic advantage: top employers want to recruit you, and there’s an incredible array of inclusive opportunities just waiting for your application.
"We recognise the talent that disabled and neurodivergent people have, and the huge potential they have to succeed."
Internships are a great way to dip a toe into the graduate employment pool, get great experience on your CV, and start to unlock your potential. And there are lots of inclusive opportunities out there for disabled students and graduates. Take a look at the fantastic Change 100 scheme which is open for applications right now – the deadline is November 30, 2023. Since its launch in 2013, the Leonard Cheshire Change 100 scheme has placed 1,060 candidates with a disability or long-term condition with paid inclusive internships and mentoring opportunities at over 265 top UK employers, including Barclays and the BBC.
"We match the best diverse talent with employers to ignite the careers of ambitious disabled university students and graduates. All you need to do is apply! We’ll work with you and your employer to ensure you receive the adjustments you need to thrive.”
Jen Burrow, Leonard Cheshire
Change 100 is open to students and graduates with disabilities including neurodivergent and mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression, and long-term health conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes, or Crohn’s disease. And if you’re worried about managing a heavy commute alongside a long working day, then you’ll be delighted to know that Change 100 offers both hybrid and remote working roles! Plus, all interns have access to full adjustment support alongside a personal development programme and supportive alumni community. You can find out more about the Change 100 scheme and hear from former interns at one of their forthcoming webinars running on November 20-23 and 27th 2023.
"Employers are increasingly committed to recruiting candidates that can help shape a dynamic and diverse workforce and are tapping into a massive and often excluded talent pool.”
If you’re looking for inclusive graduate opportunities, take a look at the MyPlus Students Club to explore roles specifically for candidates with additional needs, and employer-led events providing insights to sectors such as law, financial services, and the media. You can also get connected to academic scholarships and disability-confident graduate roles via EmployAbility which works with top employers such as Google Europe to foster inclusive workplace culture.
Unlocking your potential sounds easy but it’s not: no one else can give you the keys, only you can make it happen. And it’s also a process that takes time. It starts with identifying SMART goals – that could be career-related or to do with your personal development. Then spend time researching opportunities and areas for personal development – perhaps starting with exploring Career Centre and Handshake. We’ve talked about internships as an example of that here, but it could be as simple as purposely practicing a skill such as communication by setting a goal to ask questions in class. And sometimes being brave is required: it can be scary to put yourself out there and try something new. But embracing opportunities to develop yourself will be worth it, I promise.
Reading this blog may lead you to further questions about finding disability-inclusive employers, disability disclosure, and disabilities in the workplace. Please do get in touch with your Employability & Careers Adviser through the Employability Service if you’d like support in talking through any questions. You might also like to explore ARU’s Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion page to find out more about inclusive policies and communities within the University.
Ultimately, we want you to know that having a disability or a long-term health condition should not be a barrier to achieving your graduate dreams.
Khrieu Healy, Employability & Careers Adviser
Our Employability Service works with students throughout their time at ARU and after they graduate. The Service offers careers advice, online resources, and help with job searches, applications and interview preparation. Our Employability & Careers Advisers may mention some of these resources and services in their blogs, to give you an idea of the careers support that's on offer at ARU. Some of these resources sit behind a log in and can only be accessed by current students.