Growing up with Muscular Dystrophy was hard at times, but I was brought up by a loving family who saw me as I see myself. Whenever brothers, sisters and cousins would go to the garden to play cricket, rounders or football. they would also invite me to play. They always saw me as the same as anyone else and I think that has shaped how I approach life now.
During my time at Luton Sixth Form, I learned about the Career Ready initiative and saw it as an opportunity to gain valuable experience, as well as expanding my skill-set and my ability to network. When the time came for the students to apply for internships, it quickly became apparent that I required a placement that would cater to my needs. I got into touch with teachers from my former school who really helped to make sure that the placement, wherever it was going to be, would be willing to make the necessary adjustments. Career Ready recommended I apply for an internship at Baker & McKenzie.
I realised fairly early on that the firm were prepared to go above and beyond to ensure that my disability did not hold me back at work.
Baker & McKenzie worked with me, my carer, Debbie Mitchell and Karleen Burton from Lady Zia Wernher, and my Mum to understand the support I needed – including arranging a mini bus with a tail lift to collect me from home, providing a height adjustable table so that I was at a comfortable height at my desk, as well as booking a room to allow me to do my daily exercises under supervision. Knowing that Baker & McKenzie were putting these adjustments in place before my arrival gave me the confidence that my condition wasn’t going to prevent me from doing anything during my placement.
My experience at Baker & McKenzie has been brilliant. I’ve met some great people, gained tons of confidence and developed new skills.
I was based in the Knowledge Management team and my supervisor helped settle me into the swing of things and kept me busy and occupied from the beginning. The way that my supervisor approached things with me allowed me to feel a part of the team immediately. I was also paired up with a buddy who contributed a great deal to me settling in well and was a great person to talk to and a very considerate human being.
The advice that I would give someone who has a disability and is starting work is to be positive and excited when starting the role, whether it is a full-time permanent position or a short term placement, it will change the way you look at things and enable you to develop. Secondly, do not to hesitate to ask questions, and take the opportunity to listen to people’s stories, experiences and advice for overcoming challenges in the workplace. The main thing I have learnt is that you are always learning no matter what you are doing; so always keep an open mind around expanding your knowledge and skill set.