It might not feel like much good can come from diabetes, but today’s D-Blog Week prompt encourages us to look at the bright side of diabetes:
In February the #dsma blog carnival challenged us to write about the most awesome thing we’d done DESPITE diabetes. Today let’s put a twist on that topic and focus on the good things diabetes has brought us. What awesome thing have you (or your child) done BECAUSE of diabetes?
Here’s my take:
When it comes to a chronic illness and employment, it’s usually mums the word. Whether it’s the fear that you’ll be discriminated against or just avoiding unwanted queries into what you’re eating, for most people it’s better to just stay silent or limit disclosure to a very select few.
But that’s not how it worked out for me. In fact, I have had three employers in my professional life so far, and my diabetes got me my job with every one of them. Yes, I am possibly a freak.
I started writing about diabetes when I was 16 years old, launching my very first blog about diabetes when I was a junior in high school. I was also an active volunteer for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Almost all my extracurricular activities had something to do with diabetes, because that’s what I enjoyed. When I was in college, I continued working on a variety of projects and websites about diabetes. I held a few part-time non-diabetes related jobs. I babysat, I worked at the campus dining job, and I held the oh-so-glamorous job of “staff caller” for the Annual Giving Program at my alma mater, which entailed asking complete strangers for money over the phone.
After college, I had to figure out how to market myself to employers in my field of choice: public relations. I suppose you could say that staff caller for the Annual Giving Program was “public relations,” but I knew that my writing for diabetes websites, my familiarity with social media through the DOC, and the clips I had gathered for myself in magazines and online publications were what made me stand out.
When it came to work, I wasn’t afraid to use my diabetes.
I also knew how to use my connections. People with diabetes hold a wide variety of jobs, and I just happened to know someone with diabetes who worked in public relations. My friend told me that a colleague of his was “looking for someone who knows about blogging.” Well, it just so happens that diabetes is how I knew about blogging, especially in terms of how marketers were using bloggers to reach their customers. I ended up getting hired.
This happened again two years later. I had become more experienced in social media, because of my extracurricular diabetes activities, and I also became more passionate about healthcare, so I pursued a career at a healthcare public relations agency. My diabetes worked in my favor, because my illness gave me unique insights that I could apply to my career. My diabetes made me a uniquely qualified candidate. Who would’ve thought?!
When that job ended suddenly, I circled back to my community, to my network. Many people ask me how I got the job working with Amy here at DiabetesMine. The truth is, my relationship with her — because of our shared diabetes — is how I got this job.
The amazing thing I’ve done because of diabetes? Gained employment. It might not work for everyone, but I do believe that diabetes can open doors to sometimes unexpected avenues, and to take advantage of that, you need to embrace what diabetes has given you. It certainly makes us unique.
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A few words who might be looking to recreate the magic: Your career aspirations might not be becoming a writer or editor focused on diabetes. Whatever it is you seek, perhaps you and another member of the DOC share similar paths or goals. Maybe you’re interested in non-profit administration, or nursing, or art therapy, or another type of writing. My advice is to carefully consider what skills and experience you’ve gained regardless of where it came from, and “take advantage” of your illness by connecting with the folks in the diabetes community who are doing what you want to do. And above all, be proud of yourself and what you’ve accomplished! That’s what I call awesomeness.
Speaking of diabetes career paths –> in case you’re wondering what Amy’s been up to this week, she’s been up to her ears in evaluating submissions to the 2011 DiabetesMine Design Challenge. Community Voting Opens here at the ‘Mine on Monday, May 16!