Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The steps it took for me to find my first full-time job

When it comes to living with the physical limitations a disability can bring some may believe this would take away one's ability to work. This is simply untrue as some depending on the severity of the disability can work part-time & even full-time jobs. When given the opportunity many are perfectly capable of providing for themselves and their families. Now it isn't always an easy task finding your first job, as having a disability can bring about some unique challenges. Today I aim to share with you a few of the ups & downs I faced when it came to looking for my first full-time job. You will soon find out that a little perseverance goes a long way and eventually hard work does pays off.

The Employment Supports Program: Step One

A real benefit to those with disabilities here in Ontario seeking a job is the Employment Supports Program. This is a voluntary program offered to those receiving income support from the Ontario Disability Supports Program. Taking advantage of this program offered to me helped me to identify my strengths and weaknesses when it comes to finding a suitable form of employment. Over a three week period I take part in aptitude testing which also helps you to discover a few of your natural talents. Many which can be a real benefit to those seeking employment. Once the testing was complete I was provided with my results and ended up with a few suggestions on what types of work I should pursue.  

Working with local Employment Service Provider: Step Two 

After my time ended taking part in the Employment Supports Program the next step for me was to choose a local Employment Service Provider, who would then take me through the next steps of looking for a job. Their main focus from the start was to help me put together a professional looking resume. The biggest issue though was my lack of work experience which left me with a bare bones resume. Next up they quickly moved on to teaching me how to search for a job online. Our focus right away was on applying for call centre jobs - one of the recommendations that came from my time in the Employment Supports Program. This is actually one form of employment that many with physical disabilities pursue. Unfortunately my journey finding work at a call centre took a lot longer than I had hoped. After a year of applying for call centre jobs with a 0% success rate, I was becoming more than just a little frustrated. Eventually we had to reach out to a local temping agency for help. Right away they were able to set me up with a short term contract position at a local call centre.

Day One: Training for my first job

 About a week later I found myself arriving for my first day of training, I wasn't even anxious about it as I was actually excited. Unfortunately when I arrived for training things didn't go as smoothly as I hoped. What happened when I first arrived is that I messed up when reaching for the front door. You see I went to grab the door after someone went in ahead of me, to my surprise it closed so quickly resulting in me accidentally slamming my thumb in the door. Next thing I know I found myself in so much pain that the thought crossed my mind for me to just call it a day and head home. But after getting this far and working so hard I couldn't just give up. I simply decided to push through all the pain and take part in training while my thumb started to bruise up turning black & blue. Thinking back I am glad I stuck with this great opportunity as the work experience I gained gave me something to finally add to my lack luster resume. 

When Perseverance & Determination comes into play  

After the contract position ended I was on a bit of a high, feeling confident that it would take me no time to find another job. Without any delay I started applying for other positions with the same employer at one of there other call-centre locations. It didn't take too long before I was called in for an interview. Unfortunately things didn't go as planned when I wasn't hired for the job. Though I was a little disappointed I didn't let this get me down. Thankfully about a month later another position became available with the same employer, this time at a location much closer to where I lived. So I applied for the position, again I was called in for an interview but this time ended up failing their mandatory typing test. So for the second time I didn't get the job. Yet another set back but I wasn't ready to just give up. So at this point I simply went out and bought a typing program for my computer to focus on improving my skills. So for the third time only a few months later I applied for the same position again. This time I aced their typing test resulting in me securing my very first full-time job. The next thing I know just a few weeks later I find myself starting training. Thankfully my training turned out to be a lot of fun. Unfortunately though the fun times spent in training just flew by. It took just four weeks before I found myself working a full-time job. Sure there were days filled with challenging moments especially when it came to dealing with irate customers, but to my surprise I handle this pretty well. I am proud to say that I never let the challenges get me down. I was simply happy to have a job which I fought very hard for. 

When life throws you a curve ball you were never expecting  

At this point I was truly benefiting from having this full-time job. I started feeling like a real success story, as it felt good no longer having to rely on income support from the Ontario Disability Supports Program. Best of all things were going very well for me financially. I was really enjoying my new life as I was truly benefiting financially. I felt like a contributing member of society. Unfortunately, this didn't last long as in my second year of employment I found myself suffering from a work-related injury. It started one day when I left work due to the pain I was feeling in both arms. The next day I went to see my doctor and after an ultrasound I was diagnosed with Tendinitis. A debilitating condition that affects the tendons and muscles that help move the shoulder joint. It was discovered that I suffered a repetitive strain injury. Which left me in excruciating pain. So for the next two years I had to be put on modified duties while seeing a physiotherapist twice a week. Eventually my work-related injury was blamed on the fact that I have Becker's Muscular Dystrophy. It was at that point I was cut off from receiving workers compensation from the WSIB, that also meant no more physiotherapy. So my condition only continued to worsen leaving me to make the tough decision of ending my call centre career. Eventually I found myself re-applying to receive income support the Ontario Disability Supports Program. Only five years after pursuing a career. I guess you can say things really didn't go as planned when it came to me working, but one thing I am proud of is that having a disability never kept me from pursuing a career. That is why even today after all I have been through I still encourage those with disabilities who can to pursue finding some form of suitable employment.

Sure at times you may face discrimination by some employers, but I encourage you to never give up. Thankfully we do live in a time when employers attitudes towards workers with disabilities are changing. That means the possibilities of you finding a job are getting better every day. Just remember a little perseverance and determination goes a long way.      

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1 comment:

  1. The Employment Supports Program and Employment Service Provider sound extremely helpful, and I am glad you had access to these programs. I am sorry you suffered a work-related injury, but at least you gained experience in having a full-time career. You are definitely a strong person who can overcome any challenge, and I hope your story encourages others to keep on trying.

    Jason Hayes @ Decorm