Your First Job
Going for your first job is a big deal. It can be exciting, but you may also feel nervous at the same time. With a hand difference, you might be worried about how prospective employers perceive your abilities. It can be helpful for you to have confidence that people will look at you for what you can do rather than what you can’t. This confidence can take time to develop.
‘Have high expectations of what you can achieve and high expectations of how you’ll be treated. The fact that you have a hand difference shouldn’t change the expectations you have as to how you will be treated.’
Finding your first job
Most young people find their first jobs in retail or hospitality, like working in a café, fast food outlet or shop. These are a great introduction to the world of work because you learn customer service skills, time management, managing stock, interacting with co-workers and basic financial transactions.
Where can you start looking for a job?
Looking around your neighbourhood can be a great place to start. Local cafes, shops, bakeries, pharmacies, local tourist attractions, or anywhere you have seen young people working are great places to approach.
You can approach small businesses by asking to speak with the manager and asking if they are hiring any casual staff at the moment. No matter the answer, it’s good to leave your resume and ask them to consider you should an opportunity come up. If you don’t hear back, that’s okay!
For larger shops or retail chains, online applications are becoming the norm. First, you apply online, and then if you make their shortlist, you will be asked to attend either an individual or group interview.
Who else can help?
You may wish to let your friends and family know that you are looking for casual work and ask them to keep an eye out for you. This often results in word-of-mouth recommendations or people seeing an opportunity and letting you know about it.
If you decide to continue studying after finishing high school, you may be anxious about going to a new place where people don’t know you.
Just like employers, education providers cannot discriminate based on disability. They must provide reasonable adjustments to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to succeed in their studies. There are dedicated disability resources at every university, and the people who work there are trained and take pride in assisting students.
An example of reasonable adjustment you may need at university or TAFE could be using a recording device in class instead of taking physical notes or having extra time to finish an exam or assessment. For example, Aussie Hands member Sarah studied exercise physiology at university and received disability provisions for her practical exams. This gave her a little extra time to ensure she completed the task at a high standard.
‘I was feeling a little apprehensive about a practical task I had at uni. I ended up going to see my Course Coordinator and they suggested I touch base with the Disability Services on-campus to discuss my needs. I was put into the system and they contacted me each semester to see whether there were any assessments that I may have needed assistance with.
In the end, it was only this assessment that I felt I needed the extra time allowance for but it was great knowing that help was there if I needed it again. I would recommend getting into this program when enrolling as a first year student so you don’t have to worry down the track.’
Depending on the course, further study can also be flexible. Most further education allows you to choose your study load, have the option to do online classes, and have the ability to defer.
Some courses will require an interview or a discussion at an Open Day.
Check Out This Mock University Open Day Discussion Between Aussie Hands Members Tia And Brooke To Help You Prepare.
Have A Listen To Tia Sharing Her Own University Experience.
Check out Learning To Drive With A Hand Difference, which Aussie Hands developed from a workshop sponsored by a Transurban Community Grant for young learner drivers with a hand difference in Victoria in February 2020.
If you’re in Victoria, you can start with this list of specialist driving instructors or search online if you are in another State or Territory. For information about