Anna's story

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Applying for an internship with a disability

Anna McCarthy is in her final year at University of Sussex studying psychology with neuroscience. For herChange100 internship, Anna joined SABMiller, a global beer and soft drinks business and the world's second largest brewer. She worked in the Group Talent Management team, a subsection of the HR department.

During her internship, she was responsible for conducting research into psychometric assessment in Africa. She also worked on identifying the strategic workforce planning activities important for the future, which involved thinking about the demand and supply of talent in the future, to make sure SABMiller continues to employ and attract talented people.

Before Anna joined SABMiller through the Change100 programme, she hadn’t started looking for graduate work. However, she was well aware of the challenges and prejudices faced by disabled people when searching for employment. Fortunately, Anna’s colleagues at SABMiller were welcoming from the outset and she now says it feels like home.

The 22-year-old, who has seizures, feels that the Change100 programme is important because it gives people with a wide range of disabilities an opportunity to get some valuable work experience.

"Change100 has had a huge impact on me and my career. I would never have been able to secure the internship by myself and it has given me much-needed office skills. I used to feel very daunted at the prospect of going for jobs, but now have so much more confidence." — ANNA

Anna explains that the best part of the Change100 programme is the fact that your employers know you have a disability. She said: ‘The disclosure was made easy. You aren’t made to feel like the awkward one because you have to tell them about extra requirements. I now know how to manage my disability at work and deal with it. For example, I take breaks or work from home when I need to.’

She emphasises how understanding SABMiller has been and how her managers and colleagues took time to understand what extra support she required. ‘They called me before I joined to ask what adaptations I required and I was open and honest with them. It wasn’t a difficult conversation at all, which put me at ease and made the whole process stress free.’

 

Anna’s top tips for potential applicants

  • Be yourself. I talked openly in the interview about the transferable skills I had learnt from working as a barmaid. I think drawing on personal experiences breaks the ice.  
  • Don’t be scared. I was worried about how colleagues would react to my disability. On the Change100 programme I wasn’t viewed differently at all because I had a disability. 
  • If you secure a position, make a note about what you do. After 10 weeks you’ll soon forget and it is important to be able to add it to your CV and LinkedIn profile.

 

First published on www.leonardcheshire.org

This story is from a graduate who used Change 100 who support disabled students into internships, offering mentoring and guidance throughout the internship. Other organisations as well as your university careers service can help support you in your next steps, please take a look on our resources page for further information.