You’re a Disabled Graduate… Now What?

Gem Turner in graduation gown

First of all congratulations, it’s a hard slog and you did it! (if you didn’t that’s absolutely ok too, but I’ll save that topic for another blog post). This time of year can be weird, you can feel lost and not know what to do next. Any graduate (or graduand? I still don’t quite get the grammar) can feel like this, but when you’re disabled, I do think there are extra things going on too. So I wanted to use this post to talk about these and share tips on how I dealt with the feelings after leaving University…

Keep your eye on the prize.

If your disability means that you need to work harder to do the same as your peers to finish degree, I would say just focus on that. It’s difficult because a lot of grad jobs out there start when you’re still studying, which to me is baffling and is almost like a ‘survival of the fittest’ situation. You’ve spent years studying and now you’re near the end. If you’re able to, focus on that end goal. You will have plenty of time to apply for jobs when you’ve graduated and if that means taking a year out if you really want to apply for that grad scheme? Maybe that’s your option… Also, graduate jobs aren’t the only option!

Don’t compare yourself!

This is one I masssssively struggled with. It’s common to hear updates from friends in your final year all of the time finding out who’s got a job and although you’re SO happy for them, it’s really easy to feel like you’re the only one not succeeding. I remember in my last year of uni when my friends were all securing jobs early on, but I knew that for me – this wasn’t something I could concentrate on just yet.

Take some time out

Obviously this is only if you’re able to (financially and logistically). Although I landed a sabbatical officer role which meant I had a job for two years after I graduated. I had no idea what I was doing after that so I basically just delayed this feeling for a while. I eventually felt really lost going into the real world. So I did what my body so desperately needed, a holiday. It was the best week ever. Totally relaxing for a week after my first full time job was definitely the right choice for me. If you can’t go on holiday, just having down time at home without applying for jobs to reset yourself can be just as healing.

It’s ok to be frustrated

Whatever your impairment, there are going to be setbacks. That’s not me being negative, it’s just being realistic. This can however be frustrating. Whether that’s managing pain, fatigue, attitudes about disability – the list goes on. I think it’s healthy to acknowledge these and talk to a friend who can relate or listen to your frustrations. There is evidence out there that shows it is harder even getting interviews when you tick that disabled box on your application. But don’t let that stop you, the right company for you will invite you for YOU. So keep going.

Think about how much you want to share with employers

Talking of declaring, it’s really useful for you to think about how much you want to share with your employers and what access adjustments you may need. Of course, sometimes you won’t know until you get the job – however, if you do get asked anything like this in the interview, it’s useful for you to be confident in what you share about your disability so the employer can start thinking about their own adjustments they may need to make too.

Do what you REALLY want to do

When you’re disabled, it’s rare that people encourage you to do MORE. If you’ve got a job – “brilliant, it’s amazing you get out!” is the common line I get. Well, I say do more than that, get out there and do the job you’ve always wanted to do, because no one else is going to do it for you.

Good luck and go get ‘em!


If you enjoyed this, you may like…

The Do’s and Don’ts When Talking About Disability

Rare Disease Day: Building Confidence as a Young Disabled Woman

“Is there not a job for you closer to home?”

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