Sabine was nearing the end of her postgraduate studies when she realised that she lacked the confidence she needed to get started in the workforce. When she found out about the Stepping Into internship program for students with disability, she saw an opportunity to get involved in work she was interested in with a flexible and inclusive employer.
After completing a four-week internship program with the Department of Environment earlier this year, she was offered a 12-month contract. We caught up with Sabine to hear about her experience with Stepping Into, and find out what she has planned for the future.
What did you hope to get out of the internship?
When I applied for the summer internship, I really hoped the experience would lead to either further employment or the confidence to apply for the department's graduate program.
Has your disability been a barrier to employment in the past?
Having MS prior to a diagnosis slowed down my career due to fatigue and other symptoms which hindered my motivation and drive to succeed. Once I was diagnosed I could then manage my condition. However, I still faced mental barriers to returning to full-time work, including a major lack of confidence. I was also worried I would burn out and have to exit the workplace at a young age.
What did you learn or gain from the experience?
The Stepping Into program showed me that it was possible to regain workplace confidence and learn how to manage my disability at work. I also gained experience in my field as well as some invaluable friendships and mentors.
Did you achieve your aims?
I achieved what I set out to do when I applied for the program; the experience led to a 6-month contract, and I'm now commencing a 12-month contract in the same department. I have flexible work conditions and have regained confidence in myself and my abilities. I'm fully confident I can and will remain in the workplace and progress my career, which is a huge leap in six months!
What do you want to do with the experience now?
I love working in my department. I enjoy the diversity and challenges of the work, and I have a supportive and fun team. My goal now is to continue to build my experience, which right now is in regulatory compliance and risk. I would love to become a permanent employee and in the long term be able to feel I contributed to my field.
What advice would you give to anyone considering participating in the Stepping Into internship program?
My advice would be to ask questions, show enthusiasm, talk to as many people as possible and always seek constructive feedback. If you really enjoy the work, make that known. If there are any further opportunities, doing so will improve your chances of securing more work.
Regular catch ups with other interns is also a great idea, to make new friends and/or have that additional support.