CAMERON QUARLES, TEXAS TECH UNIVERSITY
The College Diabetes Network provides many great resources, one of them being the Off to Work Guide for recent graduates and people entering the workforce. It has many helpful tips to prepare you for interviews, workplace settings, and emergencies. I had my first internship over the summer and used the guide to prepare myself for my first office job. The guide also has many helpful tips for the interview process and how to talk about diabetes. Interviews are intimidating environments that contain a lot of stress, and then you add diabetes on top of that and you are worrying about your blood sugars while sitting in front of a potential employer. The guide walks through different topics that relate to diabetes that can add to your resume without necessarily disclosing that you have diabetes if you don’t want to.
Part of the guide I found extremely useful was the coverage of what was appropriate and acceptable in the interview process and workplace as well as reasonable accommodations and workplace discrimination. These are serious topics to understand and be prepared for when working. You would never want to feel uncomfortable or unsafe due to your diabetes, so it is important to know when to speak up. It is also important to take preventative measures in the workplace and be prepared for the worst-case scenarios. The guide has many useful tips for preparing for lows or highs while at work. It also addresses the best ways to keep extra supplies in your office space or work area, so you have what you need in case of an emergency. It’s important that you and your employer understand that your health is top priority and that there are accommodations required to keep a safe and comfortable workplace.
At one point this summer, I was at work when my pump started alerting me of an occlusion in my tubing. I was not prepared for the situation and realized I was going to have to run home to take care of the problem. Managing the situation and the accompanying panic was made a lot easier because I had already talked to my supervisor about my health concerns and accommodations, and she was extremely understanding. I was able to work everything out, but I realized later that I could have prevented the scenario if I had brought extras of all my supplies and kept them at work. When you have T1D, you must be ready for those situations because they can arise at any time, no matter how prepared you are for them.
Another key topic the guide goes over is insurance: the terminology, how diabetes ties into insurance plans, how to choose the best plan for you, and even financial planning. Diabetes is an expensive life-long worry that needs to be considered when you are choosing a career and company to work for. The guide is a helpful tool to make the transition into adulthood and paying for your own medical supplies a little less daunting. As we get older and go into the workforce, diabetes becomes more of our own responsibility. Even if your family still helps you out, it is on you to be responsible for your health. This makes growing up a lot harder, knowing that you have one more huge stress in your life to worry about, but going out into the workforce prepared and ready for the ways diabetes may affect the steps into adulthood is a good way to get started. The Off to Work Guide is extremely helpful in providing information and tips in those areas where you need to be prepared.
Editor's note: download the Off to Work Guide here!