Igniting Interns’ career considerations by Stepping Into the unknown

Wed 1 September 2021

Image: Former Stepping Into interns, Jeanette Chan, and Dragan Tomic.

Stepping Into offer interns with disability a chance for paid work experience. Alongside a dedicated supervisor and on-the job training that can kickstart their careers – interns are also gaining additional benefits. Participating in Stepping Into has led some interns into making changes in their career trajectory, changes in their industry goals or even changes in how they can advocate for themselves in the workforce.

No one knows that more than Stepping Into alumni, former interns, Dragan Tomic and Jeanette Chan.

Making workplace adjustments work for you

Jeanette Chan participated in the program twice at the Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions. It was through these two experiences that she learnt about what workplace adjustments she needed to bring her best and most authentic self to work.

“Figuring out your workplace adjustments is a learning process,” she says. “It’s okay to not know what you need from the get-go, and it’s definitely normal for these to change over time.”

As Jeanette was working out what workplace adjustments worked best for her, she also learnt how to advocate for herself, developing the confidence to provide necessary feedback to her supervisors.

“No one can really know what helps you to perform your best, so it’s on you to figure that out and communicate it to make it happen.” she says.

Being comfortable in providing feedback and asking for what she needed has been crucial in creating an environment that allows her to bring her best self to work.

Changes in career trajectories

Dragan Tomic was studying a Master of Business, majoring in Information Technology when he participated in Stepping Into for the second time.

His placement at the Bureau of Meteorology as an IT Management Program Services Coordinator exposed him to new areas of industry. While his degree lent itself to areas like knowledge management and project management, the placement uncovered a new area of business accessibility.

Because of that exposure, Dragan says he is now “exploring working with disability advocacy companies, or accessibility consultancy.”

The placement also allowed Dragan to experience a fantastic workplace culture first-hand, and has now pivoted into looking for jobs in the Australian public service sector.

Making work, work for you

Another change Jeanette learnt through the program was the change in her perspective of workplace. Instead of making herself fit into an organisation, she gained the courage, confidence and perspective to think about what the organisation could do for her.

“My perspective shifted from figuring out how I could fit into a workplace’s norms and culture, to figuring out how I could make it fit me.

Instead of trying to appear ‘normal,’ I’m learning to figure out what helps me at my best and how to make it happen.”

The program was also responsible for another change in Jeanette’s life – becoming a Peer Ambassador at SANE Australia, a national charity focused on complex mental health issues.

She encourages other students to get involved with the program.

“Do it! Being a part of Stepping Into taught me so much about myself.”

Like Jeanette, Dragan’s perspective of work also shifted.

“The biggest takeaway for me was having worked in a team that was so different to what I expected.” Dragan says.

Dragan credits the Stepping Into program for helping him gain a large amount of self-confidence, alongside supportive colleagues and a supportive manager.

Dragan also learnt new skills to take forward with him into future roles.

“Be open minded and take every opportunity you can get.”

Host an intern

If you are a member and would like to provide interns like Jeanette and Dragan an opportunity, get involved with Stepping Into.

If you’re not a member of AND, become one today.

Are you a university student who would like to know more about Stepping Into?

If you’re a student or a jobseeker who would like to know more about the Stepping Into program, view our website.

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