What work did you complete in your internship?
My internship was with Resilience NSW, an Executive Agency in the Premier and Cabinet cluster, leading and coordinating disaster prevention, management, and recovery – learning from experience to build the resilience of NSW communities, and give confidence to our communities to live, work and invest in NSW. The role, Administration Officer, was assigned to People & Culture Branch, HR Delivery, to provide the delivery of efficient and effective general administration, clerical support, and policy and research services focused on Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility.
What's your background and how did you find out about the Stepping Into Internship Program?
I was born in Zimbabwe and lived there, in South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. The most important experiences for me were growing up in Zimbabwe and living overseas. I found out about the Stepping Into program through my university’s disability services. Up until the Stepping Into Internship, my disability had been a great source of shame and a formidable barrier in qualifying for full-time employment opportunities. Even though I had overcome several personal challenges and social stigmas to rebuild my life, by seizing any and every opportunity available and giving it my all to accomplish my goals. Being the successful recipient of the internship not only afforded valuable public sector work experience, but it broke down the remaining barrier in my journey of recovery by confidently launching me into the workforce.
How did the Stepping Into program meet your expectations/differ from your expectations?
My internship was an amazing, life-changing experience! I developed the capacity to be a disability confident employee because I had a disability confident manager, Gary. In being allowed to bring my whole self, insights and lived experience to the role, I delivered research on Diversity & Inclusion Best Practices. This was well received and used to inform strategic initiatives for the whole agency. While researching more inclusive recruitment strategies, I designed a multiloop feedback system to improve and inform the recruitment experience, all the while providing general admin support for the Branch. The support of Bianca from Australian Network on Disability helped me advocate for adjustments I needed and helped me realise, reflect and feel very proud of my progress.
How did you feel working in a team that provided adjustments?
As I mentioned, my internship was an amazing, life-changing experience! I felt seen and valued. It increased my creativity, productivity and motivation. I felt a great sense of belonging – to the point where, when my internship came to an end, it was a very emotional farewell.
Can you share with us something you’ve learned or found interesting during your placement?
Having disability adjustments at work would have such a positive and liberating effect. During my internship, I unlocked the key to my career goals. My next step is full-time employment in a health/not-for-profit role.
Three pieces of advice for yourself when you were applying?
I don’t think there is anything more I would say or advise myself if I could go back in time. The support I received from AND, the seminars and the information sessions were invaluable! I followed those advice, and everything went far better than I could have imagined. So if anything at all, I would advise myself to follow the AND advice, reach out and ask as many questions as I need.
Disclaimer: The author contributed to this story in her personal capacity. The views, opinions and languages expressed belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to Australian Network on Disability, the author's employer, organization, committee, or other group or individual.