My name is Serena, and when I wrote my first article for Australian Network on Disability (AND) I was in the office, as was most of the country, this one I’m writing in my bedroom in the final week of my internship at AND.
I spent about a month of my internship in the office and it was great working in an environment where I could be honest about my disability. Being able to do that in a supportive and understanding environment helped me to feel less guarded and I noticed I could be myself at work sooner than usual.
While at AND, my experience and skills in story writing grew and so did my confidence in the workplace and in my own disability. Through reading the experiences of people with disability and writing their stories, I saw there was people like me that experienced the same self-doubt as I did when entering the workforce. I loved seeing that these people, much like myself, were gaining confidence and workplace experiences in leading Australian organisations. Seeing how open big, well-known organisations were to working with people like me, makese me feel more comfortable sharing my disability when applying for jobs in the future.
Working from home wasn’t how I hoped to spend my internship. I expected to be having face to face meetings and working in an office, however my time working from home has taught me a lot about myself as a person and an employee. I’ve learnt that I can create, collaborate, and adapt even in a virtual environment.
The workplace adjustments I received through my internship at AND, meant my daily challenges such as remembering instructions, were managed which allowed me to focus on and work towards improving my personal and professional skills. My internship in the Stepping Into program and AND, showed me how simple adjustments such as being emailed my task list, can help me work at my best, and now I feel more comfortable about asking for them in the future.
Words were the tools and projects of my time at AND. It means so much to me that I created and edited these words for a company whose purpose is to help people. This has and will always be a career goal of mine to work in an organisation that works to help others.
I found that through participating in this internship, I have gained the skills, experience and confidence to apply for jobs in the future. I encourage anyone thinking of participating in the Stepping Into internship program, whether as a student or a business, to get involved because you have so much to gain and so little to lose. I definitely gained so much, and the Stepping Into program has been an invaluable experience that I will always be grateful for.
Steven was my manager for the internship, and I asked him for his thoughts on my internship with AND:
“I think this was a great learning experience for everyone in working independently, creating the discipline within one’s self is a skill that takes time. Serena was not hesitant in asking for assistance which helped AND in giving her what she needed to succeed.”
2020 has seen many unexpected changes to how we live and work. We both would’ve preferred to be in the office as I completed my internship, however we adapted and found the best way to work together.
“As with any change, it brought challenges, rewards and learnings. With every process we had to learn, pivot and change how we communicated, determine the tools we used that suit everyone. Not one tool, or new process works the same for all and you have to tailor by working and communicating with each other.” Steven said
To support me working from home, Steven sent me my work equipment so I was able to work from home productively. We also had weekly check ins, ensuring that my workplace adjustments were met.
“We’re fortunate that we were in the midst of a technology transformation and were able to utilise MS Teams and other tools to communicate and work together as a whole team.” Steven said
Although the internship was completed remotely, we both gained so much through the Stepping Into program.
“Taking part in Stepping Into confirmed the tremendous benefits that our members have cited to us through about their own experience within the program.” Steven said