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Having work experience has given me confidence

7 November 2016

Earlier this year I had a two-week administrative work experience at the law firm Mayer Brown. The placement helped me to build my confidence and improve my ability to find paid work in the future.

Lorna Ely

I got the placement when I got in touch with Mencap’s Employment team.

Before I came to my first day I had a mix of emotions – but I was looking forward to it. I have always wanted to have the experience of working in a law firm - and now I have I wish it could have been sooner; but it also shows that it’s never too late!

To begin on the Monday, I had a good tour around the offices; I felt really warmly welcomed, everyone was lovely and professional. My first week was based within the banking and finance team and I was given a useful lesson on how to use the IT that’s specific to Mayer Brown.

According to Carla, who was supervising me on my placement, I mastered things straight away, which was a boost to my confidence!. During the week I did a mix of tasks including filing a lot of documents and research for Aaron about a new deal where one of the firm’s clients was lending to an Israeli bank. I also went to the courts with Cliff and helped out with the firm’s charity auction. I had a nice mixture of activities during the week.

One thing that I really enjoyed was the social event at Bounce where I rediscovered my love of table tennis. I had a fantastic evening and really enjoyed everyone’s company - I lost track of the number of times that the ball went off the table - but that was a big part of the fun.

In my second week I was working in the Construction Department. Here I ha to ensure letters were sorted correctly, and I also did some good work with the secretaries helping them with a lot of filing.

When I went for breaks and at lunchtimes I always felt well supported. That sums up what I feel about the whole experience. Being part of a close-knit team broke down a lot of barriers for me.

Everyone was always very reassuring – if I needed anything, I knew I could always check in with them and ask for support. At the same time I had independence too, and this is exactly the kind of working environment I want to be part of in the future. Just having my own desk meant a great deal to me.

Overall, I was always struck by the way the staff treated me and worked with me – it made me feel that that I wanted to be around them.

I think having a having a work placement was important to me because I got to learn new skills, especially completing tasks more quickly. I got to meet new people too, which has helped me to have conversations with people within a work environment.

Most importantly, I’ve learned to value the importance having a work placement gives, besides it adding to my CV.

A lot of things need to happen to improve the chances of people with a learning disability finding work. There needs to be easy read job descriptions, job interviews could be made more manageable if questions were easier to understand and you were given more time to respond to them. It would help to have more work trials too.

Employers need to engage more with people with a learning disability and open their minds to working with different groups of people. 

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Learning Disability Work Experience Week

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