I know it has been some time since I’ve posted a blog post, but I’m back and ready to discuss my experience with attending my first discussion panel focusing on inclusion for people with disabilities within the work place. The purpose of this panel was to highlight three different individuals who have disabilities, and for them to provide the attendees from various companies and organizations with insight into their experiences, as well as how these companies and or organizations can work with a potential employee with a disability to ensure that both parties have what they need.
Since this was the first discussion panel I had ever been a part of I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to articulate myself well enough for the audience members to understand me because my voice fluctuates when I speak. Public speaking has been something I struggle with, and attending this event allowed me the opportunity to face my fear while sharing my experiences in hope that those in attendance would gain notable information not only about my career experiences, but also about my qualifications and the ways in which I and others with disabilities could be an asset to some of the companies or organizations there.
With being said, there are three important insights that are beneficial to you whether you are an avid job seeker or have obtained employment. I’ve mentioned these in previous posts, and I feel as if they will forever be relevant, especially within the job market.
Taking the time to introduce yourself to someone, and provide them with a bit about your background can be a crucial factor for you within your career. You should consider every event or meeting with someone as an opportunity to “sale” yourself, allowing them to see what you bring to the table. Establishing those connections are beneficial because they can last even after you’ve obtained employment.
I’ve mentioned this one quite a few times. To progress within your career, sometimes it takes moving beyond what you are familiar with and trying new opportunities. It took my willingness to attend this conference despite my issues with public speaking for me to see the various career avenues, and to allow those in attendance to not only understand who I am, but to understand my marketability and skill set as a possible employee.
Thank You's go a Long Way
Often people may forget to thank the individual they’ve made that connection with or the employer they’ve just finished meeting with. But this is an important thing to remember because it shows that you are appreciative of the person(s) taking time to speak with you and or interview with you. This can be accomplished either by email. This also can be a beneficial way for that individual or employer to remember who you are, especially if the conversation or interview went well.
Attending this discussion panel was truly an honor. Networking with individuals, moving beyond my comfort zone to take part in being one of the panelist, and remembering to send a thank you to those involved with this event (which I did), has provided me with the confidence to try new things. Again, I want to thank everyone at the Shirley Ryan Abilities Lab and their VOC department for providing me with the opportunity to be a part of this panel.