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Old 06-20-2016, 08:29 PM
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Default Finding The Right Fit - Employment

My name is Ryan McGrade and I am a summer student working here with SBHAO at their offices in Toronto. How did I get here? That’s a funny story.

To start, let’s go back to early January where I was beginning my last semester at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo Ontario. While focusing on graduation in mid-June, I began to start looking for summer employment as I would be returning to (a new) school in September. Being born with Spina Bifida, there are some jobs I simply cannot do. While most summer jobs entail working as a cashier, lawn care, or other physical work, I had to tailor my focus to mostly office work or something with less stress on my back and feet. There are a lot less places looking for summer office help, in comparison to places looking to hire pool maintenance workers etc. I compiled a resume and sent it out to many places. Some of which even responded with requests for an interview.
This is the tricky part. Finding out enough about the employer and job title in order to make sure you are suitable and capable for the position, before you have even started. There are many jobs I believed that I had the qualifications, education, and willingness to succeed in. Just one big problem, they all entailed some sort of constant standing which would destroy the condition of my back and likely not make it worth the minimum wage that I would earn as a student. Interview after interview I came to realize each job would likely not work out. Even opportunities where I thought that it was a no brainer – like working with Mississauga Community Living as a Job Coach for people with intellectual disabilities did not end up working due to the requirement of constant standing. I began getting frustrated with the fact that these jobs which I believed I was over qualified for, were out of my reach. I had work experience, a degree which I worked hard for, CPR and First Aid Training, and a willingness to succeed…what was going wrong?
Let me say that I am incredibly lucky to be in the position that I am. None of this is meant to be a complaint. My family is incredible and I have a girlfriend of four years that supports me more than I could ever ask for. My parents both have stable jobs with the Toronto Police and I don’t struggle to put food on the table. In terms of Spina Bifida I am also very lucky. Although nobody wants to be born with Spina Bifida, I was born with a relatively mild case. There are still parts of everyday life that the Spina Bifida affects, and there are still challenges. This is meant to promote discussion on employment seeking practices
I was lucky enough last year to work with IKO (shingles) over the course of last summer working at a desk in the research and quality assurance department. They were great to me and I really enjoyed my time there. However the main reason why I was able find this position is that I had a great contact. One that allowed me to get my foot in the door to a company that could provide me with employment that would be suitable for me. This contact was my Uncle who has provided me with great leadership, guidance, opportunities, and the occasional kick-in-the-pants to motivate me and keep me focused. I owe a lot to him, more than I could probably ever pay back. Contacts are important and people willing to connect you with the right people are a huge asset.
Now how did I end up with SBHAO? That’s the funny part. One of the great people who represent the association, Shauna, called me asking if I would be willing to volunteer at the People In Motion event down at Exhibition place. After we spoke about that she asked me about the summer position here at the SBHAO. I had not applied for the position but here it had fallen in my lap. Not exactly the best example of employment searching practices!
There are many challenges for people with disabilities in finding suitable employment. The purpose of this message is to generate discussion using my situation to swap ideas and strategies for employment with others. So please feel free to comment/reply to this thread with tips, tricks, governmental support links, and strategies for ways that others can navigate around the challenges of finding suitable employment.
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