STRiVE Issue 5

by Ruyaiya Asim

I interned as an Accessibility Advisor for the Project Box. The Project Box is a company that assists students and graduates begin their early careers with world leading accountancy firms. In my role, I helped with making the application and interview processes more accessible for visually impaired people. I did this by going through these processes as an applicant, during which I identified some aspects that could be improved to make them more accessible. Then I presented my findings to Project Box and their clients.

While I go through my internship experience, I want to highlight some key points that really helped me.

Networking

Networking is extremely important: you never know what opportunities are out there if you do not make good and strong connections with people. The more people who know you and your skills the better. It is these people that are more likely to let you know about possible roles you may be interested in, as well as different projects you may want to be a part of.

I was fortunate enough that VICTA recommended me for this role. Through my strong network with VICTA, I managed to gain this opportunity. It just shows how important networking really is!

Managing interview nerves

Before I got the role I had an interview, which I was really nervous about! I recommend going through practice interview questions with your family and friends. This helps immensely, as it makes you feel more prepared.

My interview experience

For this role, I had a phone interview. I was extremely anxious and nervous! Right before the phone rang, I remember running through several different interview questions and answers in my head. The thoughts just kept swirling around and I kept reliving all my practice questions.

The time came and my phone rang… I took a deep breath and picked up. We exchanged greetings and I accidentally called the person the wrong name. I felt like I had died of embarrassment and that I had ruined my chances of getting this role from the get-go.

The person interviewing me was absolutely wonderful, and we carried on with the interview. It gradually got easier. However, I made a conscious effort to get the person’s name right every time I said it. I still felt so embarrassed and truly thought that it wouldn’t be possible for me to be hired.

At the time, even though I wasn’t sure I would get the role, I was grateful to have had the interview experience. Being a student, it can be difficult to gain authentic interview experience to help for the future, so I found this one extremely informative!

Even after all of that, I managed to get the role. When I believed I wouldn’t because I made a mistake in saying the wrong name. But now I know it’s normal, we all make mistakes and it just means we are all human. It also makes us relatable. If you are someone who has had a similar experience, I hope this made you feel less alone, because we’re not the only ones who have had mishaps in interviews.

Advocating for yourself

It is really important, if you’re a visually impaired person or have any other disability, that you understand your own needs and how things can be more accessible for you. Remember, just because a specific accommodation may work for someone else with the same disability, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you as well. Disability is a spectrum, and everyone has to have their individual needs met.

What I found works for me is asking for a phone call to specifically discuss my access requirements. This is because I cannot assume they already know my needs and it also helps everyone involved to know they are making it as accessible as possible for me. Also having a phone call dedicated to accessibility needs is helpful, otherwise everything that has been said might be forgotten and mixed in with other meeting topics.

I had a great experience working with Project Box. Making the world a more accessible place and making sure there are equal opportunities for people with disabilities to be able to work is something I am very passionate about. I am extremely delighted to see that Project Box is taking a step in the right direction to make everything more inclusive. I am also very thankful to VICTA for recommending me for this role and being able to gain and enhance new skills during the internship.

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