Tell us a bit about yourself outside of work – what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love absolutely love animals and really enjoy spending time out in nature (when the weather is nice, that is!). I love spending time with my friends, and having movie nights in with a takeaway and a face mask!
How many applications did you submit for a graduate job? How many interviews did you attend?
This job was actually the first graduate job I applied for since I was still in my final year of university, so wasn’t actively looking for a job at the time. I definitely feel very lucky and grateful to have gotten a job on the first try.
What was the most difficult interview question you have been asked and how did you answer?
The most difficult interview question I was asked was definitely something along the lines of “Why should your strengths matter to us?”. It kind of threw me off a bit, but I think that was the point! It’s easy to reel off a bunch of strengths about yourself that you think an employer would want to hear, but questions like this definitely force you to think about how your uniqueness would complement other people’s skills in a workplace, and that’s definitely quite tricky!
Were you open about your disability during the application process? What support was provided to you?
I was open about my disability, as I feel like it is important for people to know what my limits are, in case something was to go wrong. Throughout the hiring process, I felt like I was able to reach out for help, and after joining, I felt well supported by the company’s Occupational Health Advisor, as well as my team.
What led you to this role? Why did you choose to join this organisation?
I found this role via an email from my department at university. I’ve always wanted to go into healthcare but wanted a position that was a bit more behind the scenes rather than patient-facing. When I read about the position, I thought it’d be a really good opportunity to get some experience in the pharmaceutical field, whilst doing something a bit different to what I was doing at university.
Tell us a bit about the type of work you’re doing at the moment
At the moment I’m supporting my team in a range of different tasks, from market research, helping to produce documents and presentations, delegating and ensuring work gets done, and other project management activities.
How do you manage your disability at work?
I manage my disability at work by making sure I take regular breaks. The flexible working hours at Roche, as well as working from home, have really helped me out, as I can take time away from my desk if I need to without it being really obvious.
What do you most enjoy about your work?
I love that I’m constantly learning something new and developing myself, both in terms of my career and just my character in general. There are so many opportunities to better yourself and I really enjoy that aspect of work. I also really love the fact that I feel like I’m actually doing something of value, not only for my team but for the patients and their families who ultimately benefit from the things we do here. I’ve always wanted to do something that made a difference and I feel like this job really ticks that box for me.
What was it about your job/organisation that surprised you when you first started?
I was really surprised at how welcomed I felt when I first joined Roche. I’ve never really had a job before due to my health/disability, so hadn’t ever had the experience of being in a company, but felt like I’d be coming in as an outsider. That really wasn’t the case at all! I immediately felt like part of the team and valued as an individual, and people reached out to offer their help and guidance to make the experience better for me, which was really appreciated.
What aspect of the job have you found the most difficult to manage? Is this affected by your disability?
I think the aspect I’ve found most difficult is having to learn to be confident in myself and my abilities, and to just get stuff done, even when it feels completely out of my comfort zone. I’ve always been quite in my shell so being put on the spot at times and having a lot of responsibility has sometimes felt really daunting, and I think my disability has definitely had an influence on that. I have to say though, I definitely feel like I’ve grown as a consequence of being pushed to do things I wouldn’t usually do, and I feel really proud of that.
What is your organisation’s approach to disability; how has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?
The impression I’ve gotten from Roche is that having a disability or being disabled shouldn’t be seen as a negative thing. I feel like the company really cares about being diverse and inclusive, and believe that people’s set-backs should actually be seen in a positive light. It’s really important to get new and innovative ideas, and our differences can let us see things from a different perspective that other people might not have even thought of. The people at Roche have really helped me to believe in myself and feel more confident in my abilities, even when I’ve felt like I couldn’t do something.
What has been your proudest achievement since starting work?
My proudest achievement since starting work is presenting a project alongside another intern to a big group of colleagues. I was so nervous and would’ve never thought that would be something I could’ve done before starting work, and afterwards I felt so proud of myself! It was really nice to see that people thought we’d done a good job and that they were genuinely interested in what we had to say. I think opportunities like that are really great, and definitely boost your confidence and help to develop your skills too.
Tell us a personal strength or a valuable plus that you have developed, as a result of your disability. How has it helped you in your career?
One strength I’ve developed as a result of my disability is resilience. I feel like over the past few years I’ve had so many set-backs that felt impossible to overcome, but every time I got over one thing, I felt more able to get over the next. I try and keep that in my mind whenever things get tough or I feel like I can’t do something. That, and the ability to ask for help when I need it!
What do you wish you knew when you were at university?
I wish I knew that it was possible to still get to where you want to be in terms of your career, even if you feel like your disability puts you at a disadvantage. Throughout university, I really struggled with the worry that after I left I’d never find a job, especially since the biological sciences field is really oversaturated with extremely talented people! I always downplayed my achievements because of that doubt; I constantly compared myself to my non-disabled peers and felt like I wasn’t as worthy because my grades weren’t perfect and I didn’t have tonnes of experience. I realise now that there are plenty of opportunities and that someone will always value you for being you, and it’s important not to force yourself into boxes that you don’t fit into! Everyone has something they can bring to the table, and the right workplace/people will see that straight away.
What advice would you give a student with a similar disability, who wants to pursue a career in the field you work in?
My advice would be to find out what you’re good at and what your key attributes are, and figure out how to make the most of those skills. I think it’s also really important to learn that it’s ok to have limitations and that you don’t need to put pressure on yourself to be the best at everything in order to succeed. I think ultimately if you can be confident in yourself and your uniqueness, and put that across in your interviews and work ethic, you’ll do really well.