This is a fantastic opportunity for 30 students and graduates with disabilities. Please email linda.kelly@ahead.ie to reserve a place. 

I went along with Niamh to the first Get Ready for Work seminar of 2011 the week before last in Dundalk. It was my first time going to one of these seminars and I have to say, for a day at work, I really enjoyed it! The day was focused on talking to students about selling their skills to employers and the different tools they can use to do a little bit of self investigation.

 

Harriet Andrews, the Careers Officer from DKIT recommends using the Grad Ireland Careers Report and Niamh pointed students to the new AHEAD publication on Disclosure – both very valuable in examining what you want out of your career and how to approach the very complex issue of ‘when do I tell someone about my disability?’

 

If you missed the Dundalk session – do not fear! We have another seminar coming up on the 30th March in Limerick. Check out the poster:

Yesterday in Dublin Castle WAM hosted a conference: “Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace: Minding your own business” It was a very interesting morning, with Lucy Fallon Byrne opening the conference, with the policy overview formed by the National Centre for Partnership Performance. She was followed by Professor Ivan Robertson and the Gareth O’Callaghan spoke of his personal experience. Even thought it was my work, I really enjoyed the conference. The balance between policy, academics and personal seeemed to work well, with each reinforcing the other. Workshops were given by Prof Robertson and by Janice Walshe of BCM Hanby Wallace.

You can download presentations here

I think it was a timely conference, given how much mental health has been in the media lately, and also given how much the recession must be impacting on people’s stress levels, both in work and outside work. If a company can recognise the value of supporting and valuing and minding its staff, it will see the positive impact of that. It is simple. If a company can value mental wellbeing and recognise their role in creating that, then they are more likely to understand and support staff going through any mental ill health, and their employees are less likely to experience it. Seems simple really.

Press coverage (including a small survey done at the same time): Irish Times, Irish Examiner, Herald

Happy new year everyone! January is always a quiet month for me as I plan the forthcoming year and settle back into work. Anyway, part of the planning involves meetings and I recently had one with my boss where we were trying to pull together another funding proposal and a proposal for a presentation at this conference

And halfway through the meeting, as I was mid rant I realised that I still hadn’t bought a recorder of some kind. Honestly, I talk far better than I write. When prepping for some public speech I rehearse aloud/ in my head, and jot down the key points that make me remember the thread that the whole thing hangs on. But finding that line is always in conversation, always verbal rather than written. Right now, I’m talking in my head as I write this post. Anyway, the point is that I come up with my best ideas, and more importantly the logic and convincing rationale for them, when I’m talking. Not when I’m writing, not when I’m alone. So I need a recorder that I can talk into. And a space where I can talk. Because that’s the other problem. I need someone to listen, or the room to not mind me talking. So – when and how I work best. By talking and being listened to or alone (oddly enough my colleagues find it hard to work when I’m walking around the room needing to be listened to or talking to myself.  Or at least it would be unfair to ask them to compromise their way of working, – – they’re great, by the way, this isn’t a complaint – compromises and balance of different needs will have to be a whole other post)

Knowing how you work best is valuable. Next time I have to come up with an idea, a proposal, an argument to convince, to change (a large chunk of my job) I’ll be talking not writing – 2 quick, face to face, meetings were far more effective than hours spent staring at the screen drafting things I’d later scrap. In those circumstances, verbalising is far more effective for me. Obviously, in different circumstances, trying to do something different, or in a different job, it might not work for me. The point is, I’ve figured out a tool, a method that makes it easier for me to do my job, and helps me do my job better.

Working with, talking to, other people with disabilities, I’m always saying you need to know what you need to make you able to do your job – what assistive technology, what transport, what breaks, what supports, because of your disability. The point I’m trying to make, is that figuring all that out is about trying to figure out how you do your job easily and best. An accommodation is there to help you do your job – getting that accommodation is good for you and for your job. And that applies to everyone, disabled or not. The likelihood of needing an accommodation, a different way of doing things increases if you have a disability, but the end point is the same – you need certain things to do your job and to do it well.

So, figure out what you need to work well – regardless of why you need it, figure it out.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to buy a recorder.