Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Tagged: diversity

Living Successfully with Psychosis

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📥  Diversity, Tips & Hints, Uncategorized

This year I had the privilege of providing career support for Neal who has just completed his MA in International Security. It's not easy to live with a condition like psychosis and yet despite setbacks in his life, Neal recently started as a consultant for Alten. He kindly agreed to be interviewed and this is his story.

From the age of 14, I had started to feel unwell and then one day I found myself climbing on the school roof – I was completely deluded and didn’t know where I was. It was like watching the TV programme Quantam Leap or The Truman Show film with Jim Carey. Medics had no idea what caused this as I had never taken drugs, or alcohol and I was diagnosed as having psychosis. Fortunately, I didn’t suffer from any hallucinations, but I ended up being hospitalised for the next six months. I found myself being one of the first people to try Risperidone – an anti-psychotic drug which had great success. I guess during this time I was incredibly lucky and had a great childhood. I was one of seven children with very supportive parents but it was really hard for my parents to see me so ill. I was taken off the medications but then relapsed again at 16 and then 18. But despite everything, I still achieved 4 A levels ABCC from a State School. I somehow knew that Maths would open doors for the future. It was my best subject and I thought it would impress people. I was really happy to get to University of Bath to study Mathematics and Computing from 1998-2002. I spent my year placement at Motorola and then they sponsored me for my second year and final year which was excellent. Somehow, I had managed to get through university without telling anyone about my psychosis. I didn’t tell anyone because I was so worried about the stigma and how I would be received. I survived because I had the support of a long-term girlfriend and by getting a lot of sleep as the drugs made me feel so tired. I wasn’t sporty so didn’t do much exercise, but looking back realised that probably would have helped me. Anyway, I just paced myself and was glad to have got a 2:2. I was also very fortunate that I didn’t have any psychotic episodes during this time.

It wasn’t until the final week of my final year that I told my personal tutor about my mental health as I had asked him to be my referee for MBDA.  The tutor actually put on the reference – “this student is extremely good at keeping secrets!” MBDA (part of BAE Systems) offered me a job on their graduate scheme and I worked my way up to principal engineer on their missile systems. I had disclosed my disability when I joined and it had taken 11 months to get my clearance which came with certain restrictions on how I could work, but the organisation was always very supportive and wanted me to do well. I worked on some really interesting and diverse projects including an internship for RUSI (a big think tank).

Suddenly out of the blue in 2006 I had another psychotic episode and this time diagnosed as having Schizo-affective disorder with manic type, now labelled as Recurring Psychosis. I guess it may have been kicked started by the fact I had been under a lot of stress outside of work, and also my drug dosage had been reduced yet again. This time I was so bad that I couldn’t even look after myself and I was eventually sectioned 24/7 for six months. In this breakdown and other later breakdowns, I suffered with hallucinations and delusions.  It wasn’t a great time in my life and it was hard for my family who visited me regularly. I have never taken drugs (other than my medication), never smoked and never drank and yet here I was again.

My company were great and they paid me for those six months and then I went back to work. I worked successfully for another five years and I was still on medication but I hardly had any time off. Then in December 2011, I fell ill again and I just couldn’t get well and was sectioned three or four times and by October 2014 I lost my MOD clearance which was devastating as it meant I lost my job. Looking back this time, the doctors believe that I ended up with a chemical imbalance, as I was now exercising a lot and spending a lot of time in the gym and somehow this had diluted how the drug worked.

I was finally put on a new drug which is working really well and appealed to the MOD on my clearance but I couldn’t get it back. So in 2015/16, I decided to take some time out and went travelling.

I thought about what I wanted to do and realised that I had always had an interest in military science and I think my time at RUSI had inspired me on that as I would often attend lectures. I had always enjoyed reading magazines such as Foreign Affairs. It was a friend who recommended the Masters in International Security at University of Bath and so I thought “why not!”. I mainly did it out of interest and really enjoyed it although I found the essays hard though because with my STEM background I didn’t have that much experience. My dissertation was on The Ethical Mandate of Autonomous weapon systems in a UK context. If I ever manage to go back into the Defence industry, then I think my Masters will prove to be extremely useful.

What’s different about being at the University of Bath again for a Masters? Well, this time I decided to disclose my disability and it’s been really great to have support. I saw a Counsellor from Student Services every week who helped me to deal with any stress/anxiety I may have had on the course, although I do know that stress is not related to any relapse I might have in the future. I also used the Skills Centre and had my essays checked. As well as this I have used the Careers Service - a lot! I attended a workshop on Developing Resilience to Support your Career run by Careers and Student Services and found this particularly useful. I attended a webinar on To Disclose or Not to Disclose your disability which included information on where to find disability friendly employers. My personal view from having a mental health issue is to disclose after you get a job offer! However, I appreciate that for every individual this will be different. I also had several one to one appointments with a careers adviser. This was useful as I had thought about going on another graduate training scheme but realised through the guidance interviews that I had a load of experience and needed to find a higher-level role. As well as discussing career options, I used the career meeting to seek advice on improving my CV which was actually a challenge to do as a mature student and so the advice was useful. I eventually decided that my career goal was to be a consultant or chief engineer with a particular technical specialism. My longer-term career goals, well I have even thought about going into politics! I really admire those people going into politics later in life even if I might not agree with their political views. I’ve even thought about doing another degree in my spare time.

So, my advice to anyone who has a disability is to get the support you need but also get involved. This time round I joined the Debating Society and the Philosophy Club as well as took part in activities within POLIS attending extracurricular seminars on campus and also at BRLSI in Queen Square.  Don’t be secretive either about your condition. I don’t publicise my disability but I will talk about it if asked. The way people view mental health conditions is changing and I think high profile people like Stephen Fry help to do this. It’s really important when things get tough to look back at your previous achievements and remember what you have accomplished. Despite my condition, I have achieved a lot – a 2:1 for my final year project and I am very proud of my French GCSE. And just remember there is nothing wrong in being ill for a year – sometimes that just happens, or taking a gap year to recover. Don’t see these things as a fail – it will in the long term help you to do better grade wise. Repeat a year too if that’s the best thing for you. Most importantly, stick to your medication.

After CV checks/applications checks, and support I ended up with two job offers and had to book another careers appointment to help me with deciding which job! I have just started working with Alten – a multi-national software engineering consultancy and currently working for Rolls Royce designing engines for private jets – really interesting work. So as I start on another career journey, I hope my story will encourage you to do the same!

(For information on support offered by Student Services visit the Welfare and Wellbeing Advice Team. Drop in sessions run daily.) 

 

Getting a graduate job or placement when you have a non-visible disability

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📥  Advice, Diversity, Labour Market Intelligence, Tips & Hints, Uncategorized

 

Applying for graduate jobs can be daunting, but when you have a disability, this can sometimes add to the stress of applying for graduate jobs. This blog aims to allay some fears and also encourage you with tips, advice and information on where you can find help and support to succeed in the graduate labour market.

Defining a non-visible disability

It’s probably a good idea at this point to define what we mean by a non-visible disability. These are basically disabilities which are not immediately apparent. They are also sometimes referred to as “invisible” or “hidden” disabilities. An interesting fact is that one in every two people has some kind of health condition -this may not necessarily equate to a disability under the Equality Act definition but it does mean that there are a lot of people living with things that are not immediately obvious to the eye.

Some of the non-visible disabilities that many of us have so to name a few:

ADHD, Dyspraxia, Deafness, Anxiety, Dyslexia, Chronic Fatigue/ME, Coeliac Disease, Narcolepsy, Repetitive Strain Injury, Tinnitus..

Its worth knowing at this point that there are therefore huge numbers of people working successfully in the workplace with non-visible disabilities.  For example, how many of you know which non-visible disability these well know people from the entertainment and political arena have?

George Clooney     George_Clooney-4_The_Men_Who_Stare_at_Goats_TIFF09_(cropped)

Lady Gaga

Lady-gaga-icon-thatgrapejuiceKylie   Kylie Minogue

381px-Theresa_May_MPTheresa May

Donald Trump                    Donald_Trump_September_3_2015

Daniel Radcliffe Daniel Radcliffe

(answers will be put up on our Careers Facebook Page in a few days time!)

So many people have a non-visible disability but they have successful careers. So how might they have done this?

Become an expert!

What’s important when applying for a job is that you become an “expert” on your disability. It’s important that you understand how your disability affects you and the adjustments you would need to work well in an organisation. So think about what would make your life easier. This may range from flexible working, working from home occasionally, specialist equipment, line management support – a preference for having clear goals and regular meetings to check progress are some of the things to think about.

The question an employer will always want to ask is “What is your disability and how will it affect your ability to do the job?”

Once you feel comfortable with the above and have thought about your needs, and the support you might ask for to succeed in the job, think then about your strengths.

Know Your Strengths

It’s so important to know what you can offer an employer, so spend some time thinking about your personal attributes and your knowledge and experience. For example, a person with dyslexia, has often learned to be very organised because short term memory can sometimes be an issue.

If you suffer from Chronic Fatigue/ME for example, again you may have worked out how to be extremely organised during your degree to meet deadlines and cope with tiredness. You may also have developed strong resilience and empathy skills as a result of your condition.

Think how you have achieved on your degree course and how this could be transferred to the workplace. Perhaps some of the techniques or tools you have used during your academic study would be easily transferable to the world of work. If you are finding it difficult to articulate your strengths, do come and speak to a Careers Adviser.

Finding Jobs

You may find it useful to target disability friendly employers. Look for particular accreditations such as Disability Confident employer or the Two Ticks. disability_confident_employer_roller

EmployAbility www.employ-ability.org.uk is a not-for-profit organisation that provides support and advice for students and graduates with disabilities. Employ-Ability also runs a wide range of internships and graduate recruitment programmes on behalf of many of the most prestigious and progressive blue-chip and public sector organisations.

When or if to tell an employer about your disability

“So how do I get a job and when, if, and how should I tell an employer about my disability?”
When to disclose has probably been the most popular query I have had this year as a Careers Adviser covering students with disabilities.

Disclosure to employers is complicated and a challenge, because you don't always know exactly what you'll be doing in that job, and whether your condition will be relevant. As many disabilities aren’t obvious to people, students may also find it tempting not to let a potential employer know in advance. However, there may be many benefits to disclosing and particularly early in the recruitment process. One recent graduate I met at a Careers Adviser’s training event in London last week said that he really hadn’t wanted anyone to know he had dyspraxia/dyslexia and when applying for the Civil Service Fast Stream, he chose not disclose the first time round and then failed on one of the final tests. The second time round he was advised to disclose, was given extra time and support and he was successful in his application. His biggest regret is not doing this earlier!

Firstly, if you are not sure, you can decide anytime whether to disclose or not. However, the important thing to bear in mind is that you will not come under the protection of the Equality Act 2010 until you do. For more information on this take a look at https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/equality-act-2010/what-equality-act

or Diversity Link information.

At the Psychometric Test, Application or Interview stage?

If you do decide to disclose think about when you might. You may decide if you have dyslexia or suffer with anxiety or ADHD, that it would be good to tell an employer of your disability prior to sitting any psychometric tests as you may need to ask for additional time and in some cases you may need to give the employer time to consider alternative tests in order to measure your capability to do the job. A key tip here is think about telling the employer sooner rather than later as preparation work would need to be done to best support you.

You may decide to disclose at the application stage as  companies may select you then on meeting the essential criteria required to do the job. You may decide that you would prefer to apply and then if shortlisted disclose then. It may be that you need some reasonable adjustments for the interview in order to compete successfully.

You may decide that actually, you will wait to see if you get a job offer and then speak to an employer about support you might need in the workplace.

Some graduates decide to wait and see and will start working before making a decision to disclose.

It’s really up to you and what you feel is the best time if at all. If you would like help on making this decision then please do book to see me – just email me - Melanie Wortham or careers@bath.ac.uk. If you are leaving Bath then we can do a Skype appointment.

Links to information and Advice

There are many non-profit organisations and charities who also offer advice and support. Some of these are:

EmployAbility (specialist organisation working with disabled students and graduates)
Disability Rights UK (includes a useful careers guide)
RADAR (disability rights organisation)
Leonard Cheshire Disability (the UK's leading charity supporting disabled people)
Great with disability
Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB)
Action on Hearing Loss (formerly Royal National Institute for Deaf People)
MENCAP (for people with learning disabilities)
MIND (for people with mental illness)
British Dyslexia Association
The Dyspraxia Foundation
Narcolepsy Association
Interview and Assessment Centre Preparation

Resources at the Careers Service

We have many resources in the Careers Service to support you.

Check out our website http://www.bath.ac.uk/students/careers/

See our selection of DVDs on preparing for interviews and assessment centres http://www.bath.ac.uk/students/careers/information-resources/catalogue.bho/index.html

Book a practice interview to help you prepare for those difficult question and alleviate some anxiety

Try out our video interview software Interview Stream

So my final thought for today is play to your strengths and take your time to prepare for the recruitment process, finding out exactly what is involved and how you can be a success in that job.

For further information and support do contact us by popping into our new facilities in the Virgil Building on Manvers St or sending us an email at careers@bath.ac.uk.

 

Melanie Wortham

Careers Adviser

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Update on Careers Provision for Students with Disabilities

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📥  Advice, Diversity, Uncategorized

As many of you are probably aware the Careers Service has now moved down to the Virgil Building in Manvers Street and we are now open!   So, I thought now would be a very good time to talk about the provision that we offer to all of our disabled students – so this would cover anyone with physical, mental health and learning needs such as dyslexia and dyspraxia. To make sense of our provision I have split this into General Careers Provision and Additional Careers Provision for Disabled Students.

Careers photo

 

General Careers Service Provision

You may have already seen your Faculty or Department Careers Adviser who will deliver some Department-specific activities on campus. Some of our employer talks and promotional activities will also still take place on campus.

However, most of our Careers Service activities have now moved down to the Virgil Building in Manvers Street where you can book Quick Queries and can also book longer appointments through our reception down there as well as attend skills workshops. In VB we also have a number of resources and free leaflets and information booklets which you might find useful. So when you are down in Manvers St do pop in to see the facilities! We are located on the 2nd level near the main reception so a lift will shortly be installed at the main entrance.

To book an appointment in VB just go to https://myfuture.bath.ac.uk

pic of disabilities

Additional Careers Service Provision for Disabled Students

The University recognises that some students would benefit from having careers support still on campus. So in addition to all of the above, my new role as a Careers Adviser is to provide exactly this on campus and I am here to support you during your time with us and in the year after you graduate to ensure that you reach the career goals that you are looking for. So what exactly does that mean?

Appointments on campus

I am based on campus for three days a week and therefore I am able to offer you appointments here. You can either phone our reception to book one of the slots on a Tuesday or Wednesday by ringing 01225 386009 (just let our enquiry team know that you are a disabled student), or you can email me (Melanie Wortham) and I can book these for you. If you are unable to make those times, then I have some flexibility on Mondays to offer you alternative appointments. So basically, we are offering you additional careers provision which will hopefully be useful in busy semesters. In vacations you will also have the support of a careers adviser, and can access appointments remotely by Skype or telephone if you prefer.

 

So why would you come and see me?!

If you just have a short query such as how to explain something on your CV, or wanted to know something about a particular occupation, then book a 15 minute appointment – that is perfectly fine. Or it may be that you are not sure of what you want to do and a 45 minute appointment may be more appropriate.

Here are 10 reasons students’ book to see a Careers Adviser:-

Get advice on their CV and applications
No idea or little idea on what you might like to do in the future
Get some ideas on work experience, and where to look
Discuss placements, internships, voluntary work
Need some help with interviews – we offer practice interviews
Job search
Looking to go into something completely out of the degree area and need advice
Being a mature student and looking for a career change
Considering Further Study
Advice on psychometric tests and assessment centres

I hope the above has given you some idea on the sorts of help and advice that we offer. However, if there are any other careers related issues you would like to discuss, then please just email me and come and chat about it! I very much look forward to meeting some of you over the coming months and years.

 

Being Transgender and Applying For Jobs and Placements

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📥  Advice, Applications, Diversity, Uncategorized

The other week I attended an excellent Equality and Diversity Forum that included a workshop delivered by a final year student on issues that can arise for transgender* students during their time at University. This student’s experience highlighted the stress of telling not only family and friends but also university staff, being concerned how she would be viewed, the difficulties of expressing how she was feeling and the support she would have liked. When asked about applying for jobs, this was seen as yet another hurdle to be taken at a later date. So I thought it might be useful to look at what help is out there, and what are the key issues for transgender students when applying for jobs, the protections you have legally and the choices you have. I have only touched on some issues but there are signposts to further reading and support available. (more…)

 

Our #pledgeforparity is to achieve equal confidence

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📥  Advice, Diversity, inspire

All around the world, International Women’s Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality. Pledge for Parity is the theme for the 2016 International Women's Day, encouraging everyone (men and women) to take concrete steps to help achieve gender parity more quickly. Within the careers service we are making a pledge to achieve equality in self-confidence as we believe lack of self-belief is holding women back from achieving their full potential.

The Institution of Leadership & Management's research 'Ambition & Gender at Work' suggests that over 50% of women report feelings of self-doubt about their performance and careers. Time and time again research shows that  women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence.  According to the Huffington Post, confidence is what allows you to start acting and risking and failing, to stop mumbling and apologising and hesitating. With it you can take on the world; without it you remain stuck on the starting block of your own potential.

So how can women develop confidence?

  • Use empowering language: Aston Universities Vice Chancellor, Professor Dame Julia King  says  women tend to use more cautious, less aggressive/assertive language, and often apologise for what they are about to say  - ‘This isn't quite my subject area, but perhaps you might consider…’ ‘I am not sure this is exactly relevant, but…’ This can be interpreted as weakness and makes what women say easier to dismiss or ignore.
  • Banish Negative Self-Talk: It is amazing how self-talk can lead us in to or out of a situation. If you can, take time to visualise the discussion or event going well rather than thinking of the things that may go wrong.  Ask yourself, 'whats the worst that could happen?' - when you do this,  you get a clarity and a bit of fear vanishes.
  • Take a risk: Become comfortable with things that you don’t know, and turn your fear into an eagerness to learn new skills.
  • Celebrate your successes: The best confidence boost is to celebrate your successes and keep reminding yourself of it by writing them on post-it notes. Then have them displayed in an area that you can view each day e.g. kitchen, wardrobe, medicine cabinet etc.
  • Invest in your development: This afternoon we are supporting the Bath Students Union by delivering a workshop designed to enable women to identify their strengths and values and to harness these to pursue positions of leadership. There are plenty of such training opportunities that women can harness on campus from attending skills development events to participating in the Sprint personal development programme.

 

Careers support for disabled students

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📥  Advice, Diversity

The careers team are mindful this is a really hectic time for a lot of you - some of you may be considering placements, applying for graduate jobs where as some of you may be trying to clarify your thinking about what you want to do. All this can sometimes feel really overwhelming... and more so if you have additional needs arising from disabilities and health conditions. You may be worrying about whether you disclose your disability and how employers may view this in the selection process.

Please let me assure you - there are lots of good, inclusive employers out there who will take on board individual circumstances, and will view your disability positively. My role in the careers service is to support you and I can help you in a number of ways such as:

  • discussing when to disclose
  • clarifying reasonable adjustments and helping you to explain these to potential employers
  • helping you to identify inclusive employers

To book an appointment  please contact the Careers Service or email me, Saiyada Fazal, directly at s.fazal@bath.ac.uk. Our conversation is confidential. Do also keep an eye on our events programme; for example next Wednesday, 28th October, City Disabilities will be delivering a webinar on disclosing your disability from 1.15-2.05pm. We also blog useful advice and opportunities so keep checking back.

 

 

Autism in the Workplace...

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📥  Diversity, Sector Insight

This recent article in The Guardian highlights the work of Specialisterne (Danish for the Specialists) – a charitable organisation which has now spread to 13 countries, including Britain, where for the last two years it has placed people on the spectrum in positions in the BBC, the NHS and Lockheed Martin in Glasgow among others.

If you are a Bath student or graduate who has autism and would like to discuss your disability and how to present it to employers, please book an appointment with one of our careers advisers. You may also find our blog post on disclosure and advice for disabled students of interest. Remember we are open throughout the summer holidays!

 

PwC is Scrapping UCAS Points As Entry Criteria For Graduate Jobs

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📥  Diversity, Graduate Jobs, Labour Market Intelligence, Sector Insight

One of the UK's largest graduate employers is to scrap using UCAS points as entry criteria for its graduate scheme, something which could lead to a huge shake-up in the recruitment sector.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is believed to be the first major employer to exclude UCAS points from its employment process, in the hope of recruiting a broader talent. Critics have long argued the practice of using UCAS points discriminates against students from poorer backgrounds; who may have attended weak secondary schools but who have gone on to perform well at university. Graduates applying for jobs at PwC will now be primarily filtered on university degree results, followed by online assessments, before reaching the interview stage.

 

Diversity Round Up!

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📥  Advice, Diversity, Graduate Jobs, Internships

I wanted to share some upcoming deadlines that may be of interest to some of our students:

Women in Investment Banking: offers 50 career motivated first year female students a unique opportunity to hear first-hand what it is like to work in an investment bank and how you can follow in their footsteps!

The Met Diversity Internship: This summer, the Met are recruiting up to 19 talented interns for a paid internship, to work on projects that could change the future of policing.

IT: its not just for boys: Event designed exclusively for female students who are looking to find out more about technology careers.

National Audit Office Scholarship Programme for BAME students: Summer Internship Programme for undergraduates
from a Black or Asian minority ethnic background who are interested in a career in accounting and auditing.

The Mike Devenney Scholarship for Disabled Students: The Mike Devenney Scholarship helps talented and independent minded disabled students, both undergraduate and postgraduate with some of the costs of studying at higher education institutions.

 

Job hunting tips for students and graduates with Aspergers

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📥  Diversity, Tips & Hints

Finding employment after graduating can be difficult for many students. However, for graduates with Aspergers Syndrome, this process can be particularly challenging. Aspergers is hidden disability affecting around 700,000 people in the UK. The condition manifests itself in different ways but more commonly it can affect communication and social skills. This can prove to be a significant barrier at interviews and assessment centres which often form part of the recruitment process.

If you are a student or graduate with Aspergers and find interviews and assessment centres particularly challenging, you may want to consider the following advice:

  • Disclose your disability: whether you disclose is a significant concern for many students and graduates. You can choose to disclose at any stage of the application process. However disclosing and discussing any adjustments prior to interview may enable you to showcase your true potential.
  • Discuss your disability positively: Once you have disclosed be open and talk about your disability positively. Think about the skills and positive attributes you have developed as a result of having a disability and draw on this evidence in the interview to showcase your suitability for the role.
  • Articulate your needs: by knowing what adjustments you need you can be proactive in requesting the right support. The Great with Disability website has examples of the types of adjustments you can request.
  • Get interview practice: interviews and assessment centres take practice and it can help to understand what employers are looking for. Do contact us in the careers service for 1:1 practice, we are able to help you even if you have graduated.
  • Is this right for you: if you find you are locked in a cycle of not getting interviews or being unsuccessful in assessment centres, then do step back and consider whether this role or industry is the best fit for you? You may want to think about your strengths and explore where you could make a strong contribution. I thought the advice shared by Chris Carson is excellent and really worth considering.

The  National Autistic Society have a wealth of information on their website. You may also want to explore opportunities advertised via Remploy, Even Break and EmployAbility. Finally, if you are a Bath student or graduate please contact Saiyada Fazal, our careers adviser who takes lead in supporting disabled students.