I’ll start by pointing out that I’m not your average student; I’m a woman in a field statistically more favourable to men and it’s been said by more than a few of my tutors that I have drive and focus beyond the norm.
If this is so then it’s probably because I’m a mature student with a hidden disability and a toddler.
As a mature student I already have experience of the workplace and know about the unspoken politics at play; I’m aware that I have to work three times as hard as the average student if I want to become employed at the end of my degree – especially in the current economic climate. I’ve experienced homelessness, I’ve experienced poverty to the stage where all I’ve had to eat are porridge oats and cold water (don’t recommend) and I’ve experienced the horror of the benefits process and all the ways they grind you down and try to stop you from trying to claim your due.
The drive and focus mentioned above are easily explained in one word: Fear.
I’m afraid that I’ll never get the chance to work again because:
- My illnesses dictate that realistically I can only take a part time position
- Already having a child also means the possibility of more time off work
- As a woman, what if I get pregnant again? (not something I’d do again through choice I assure you *shudders*
Yes, legally none of this should have any bearing on my fitness do do a job but an employer will have to consider the fact that the nature of my illness could result in a relapse and sick days without warning – which under the disability act they have to cater for; so even a part time employer may stumble a little when considering me.
These are the strikes I have against me even before an employer looks at my ability, so for me to compete in the working arena against able bodied folk younger than me without responsibilities, I have to perform well above average.
So, if I seem to be focussed on doing anything that will make me a more attractive candidate for work, imagine just how much harder I’ll work in an effort to retain that position should someone out there take a punt on me? If I can get a position whereby I can work flexi-time and/ or from home, mainly to my own schedule; I could do wondrous things people – just pray that somebody out there will give me the chance!