Olivia Princi, 22 says the job hunt can be a scary process for anyone to go through, but especially for people with disability. She shares her experience of finding a job and how it has inspired her to achieve her biggest goal - total independence.
Securing your first job can be one of the hardest and most time consuming processes a person has to go through. There’s all the different emotions that go with it of either not being successful or moving onto the next stage followed by the anxiety of what your next move is whether you get the job or not. It’s exhausting.
I’ve come to discover these are pretty normal feelings for any person, but I wish people would think more about what it’s like for someone with a disability. My name is Liv, I’m 22 and I have Spina Bifida. I use a wheelchair and I know all too well the struggles of looking for a job.
Having used a wheelchair since birth, I’ve learnt to deal with situations like going to interviews and turning negatives into positives. It’s become second nature for me to say the right things and approaching certain scenarios or questions that come up to make it less scary for the person I am communicating with. These techniques make it easier for people to relate to me and experience what I am actually about, rather than what they physically see.
I look back on the job search process as being a very rewarding one and allowing me to learn skills which have enhanced my life both personally and on a professional level. Some of the most important skills I’ve learnt are to be proactive and organised so I can do every job as best I can.
One thing that smoothed the transition into the workforce is the volunteer work I’ve been doing for the past seven years with the Delta Society Australia. This is a not-for-profit which promotes the role of companion animals in people’s lives. I helped out on the assessment days held every three months to allow dogs and their owners to go through a range of different activities to see how the dog reacts in different situations.
The skills I learnt while volunteering have helped me become more independent and enabled me to achieve many goals I never thought possible. I’ve learnt the value of providing great customer service, to always be professional and to use my initiative and do things without being asked.
One of biggest goals I’m working to achieving is to become fully independent so I can live with my fiancé without having to rely on my mum or anyone else’s help. Independence is so important to me and being an adult in the workforce has taught me that you have to do things yourself. No one is going to do them for you and I now want to live the rest of my life this way, achieving the things I set out to do and learning more and more along the way.