“I am incredibly grateful that I took this chance.”
This summer, I’ve been working at Motability Operations (MO) as part of my place on their scholarship programme. I’ve been placed on the Connected Vehicles team, which is centred around data science. Day-to-day, my role has involved researching model inputs and preparing and analysing data stored on the cloud.
I’ve learnt how to use new tools and have also presented work at departmental meetings. On top of this, collaboration is very important to my team and so I have spent a lot of time discussing potential avenues for our work with other team members. My contributions to these discussions have always been valued by others and it’s been great to work on such a supportive team.
Since the pandemic, MO has adopted a hybrid approach. For me, this means lots of remote working, but with regular (approximately once a week) in-office days for brainstorming and discussion sessions.
My department is split between Bristol and London, so I have spent time at both offices. Each comes with its own advantages – the view of the Shard from the London office is spectacular, but the Bristol office has a café with free, barista-made coffee as well as a large fish tank with adorable fish!
The scholarship application process
Last summer – just as I was packing to go on holiday – I found out about the Motability Operations undergraduate scholarship programme via a Flying Start email. I’d never come across a scholarship targeted at disabled students before and decided it would be worth a shot, despite the inconvenient timing. Now that I am coming to the end of the placement that forms part of the scholarship, I am incredibly grateful that I took this chance.
The first stage of my application process involved answering some questions on an online form, as well as uploading my CV. After this, I had a quick HR phone interview where I answered three questions about the company. The final stage of the process was an assessment centre involving giving a presentation and answering some interview questions about how I aligned with the company values.
What stood out to me most throughout this process was the level of support I received. Communication was clear and prompt and I was always reminded that I could ask for reasonable adjustments if I needed them.
The process was supportive in its design in other ways too – for example, I received the interview questions for the assessment centre ahead of the day, so I had time to prepare and felt less nervous as a result.
Applying for jobs as a disabled student
Even if I hadn’t been successful in applying for the scholarship, I would have been grateful to have gone through the application process – it was a safe environment to practice writing a job application and work on interview skills. Having this practice set me up well for applying to graduate jobs.
It is daunting moving into the workplace as a disabled student. The workplace is undeniably different to school or university, and it can be difficult to visualise how adjustments and support can translate to this new environment. I found that getting lots of application practice helped make me feel more confident in making this transition. I also spent a lot of time thinking about the environments that would be best for my needs as well as the adjustments that I could ask for, which together helped me focus my energies on applying to companies that would be the best fit.
“What stood out to me most throughout this process was the level of support I received.”
My top tips
- Thoroughly read the company website before interviews. Understanding a company’s work and values gives talking points during an interview and can also help you decide if this is a company that you want to work for.
- Explore what kind of workplace environment would be best for you. For example, would you feel better working fully remote or in-office?
- Get lots of application practice – it gets easier!
Anna found the funding for this internship after reading 🚀 Flying Start, our newsletter full of opportunities addressing equality, diversity and inclusion.
Take a look at all the ways the Careers Service can help with tailored and targeted resources on our website.