Everything changed for 20-year-old Azar while on Scope’s pre-employment programme for young disabled people. In this guest blog, Azar shares his story as part of Scope’s 100 days, 100 stories campaign.
I have cerebral palsy, but you can’t really see it at first. That’s because I’ve been covering it so well – my whole life I’ve been covering up. The more time you spend with me, the more you figure it out.
I knew I wanted to work in business, so after I left college I was looking for a job. I just wanted experience to put on my CV, even just working in a supermarket. I remember a lot of times in my interviews I didn’t want to say that I had a disability, but they would pick up on it because of the way I speak, the way I walk.
Getting knocked back
I applied to lots and got rejected by all of them. Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Marks and Spencer, Waitrose – the list just goes on, the jobs that I applied for.
I met Vicky from Scope, and she asked me, ‘Anything you want any help with?’ I asked, ‘Can you give me a job?!’ She said she’d try.
And a few weeks later she gave me a call, and she said that there’s this programme, First Impressions, First Experiences. At first I thought, ‘It’s not a job, it’s more of a course, and I won’t be getting paid’.
But then I thought about it. I had a flashback of my previous job interviews – which went well, until I talked about my disability.
Skills for the business world
Because of the course, and the professional mentor I worked with, I’m more confident of just being me without people judging me. You can’t be worried about what other people think.
If anything you’ve got an advantage, because you can say: ‘I‘m at the same place as these people, but I‘ve also got a disability’. It just shows you have an extra strong character. Now I describe my disability as more of a strength than as a weakness.
I use the skills I learnt on the course all the time. For example, speaking in a professional manner – no one’s going to take you seriously if you’re speaking slang.
My dream job is to become a foreign exchange trader. I want to trade in the financial markets. I joined an online trading academy – they gave me a scholarship and now I can go on the course for free.
And after the course, the trainers don’t just say goodbye to you. We’ve been in frequent contact, and it’s something that I’m hoping to carry on.
Recently, I had a cup of tea with my mentor, Sean. I had a great relationship with Sean. He’s a trader, and he had this cool charisma.
I think that’s one of the things I learned – working in business there are going to be times where it’s stressful, painful, hard, but in the end it’s the people who stay calm who make it.
Without Scope I don‘t know what I’d be doing now. I’d be jobless, probably at home, playing my X-Box, watching TV. I wouldn’t be where I am today and I wouldn’t be able to explain my disability in a confident manner.
I‘ve just started a business management course at university. I got an access scholarship with help from Scope. I’m also working a part time job, and I’m starting a business with my uncle. I know what I want to be, and I know I can get my dream job.
Azar shared his story as part of our 100 Days, 100 Stories project. If you’re a disabled person or a parent of a disabled child, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story.