Kevin S. on May 12, 2019
I'm 25 years old and am about to graduate with my Bachelor's degree and a nice GPA. The problem is I have Ewing's Sarcoma a rare bone cancer that doesn't seem like it will ever go away and a physical disability (nerve damage in my right leg) but I've been successfully keeping it at bay for 5 years now with regular treatment. Due to physical restrictions I wouldn't be able to do something like door to door sales and I understand my time is precious and my medical situation could change at any moment but if I'm alive I WANT to contribute to society and make something of myself and take some of the financial burden off my girlfriend and family. I just get very discouraged when it comes to applying for jobs because I either feel like they won't consider me because every 4-5 weeks I'd have to miss some hours of work for chemo and I would probably need a day or 2 of time off for recovery at some point. I can function on most of my chemo days I just wouldn't be able to be physically at the office or place of work. Is there any hope of me actually landing into a career or should I just worry about my health and try to forget about it?
Nicole Franklin, MPH
May 23, 2019
Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:
Thanks for writing to us and congratulations on graduating! It’s great that you can start focusing on your job search and think critically about what you want to do next. It makes complete sense why you want to work — not only because you feel ready and able — but because it’s important to you on a personal and professional level. Many people feel the same way that you do, so you are definitely not alone.
The first thing to know is that—in general—you are under no legal obligation to disclose your medical condition to your prospective or current employer. That said you may have to disclose some information if you want to access a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to show you are entitled to it (more on that topic below). During the interview process, you may decide to wait until you receive an offer to disclose and/or request any reasonable accommodation, or even wait until you have started the job (in most cases you won’t really know what you need or what you need to ask for until you are actually in the role, experiencing the environment and the responsibilities of the job). I recommend watching the following video to get a better understanding of disclosure issues: https://www.cancerandcareers.org/en/community/videos/bwc/2019-webinar-online
It's also important to note that the ADA and state fair employment laws prohibit most employers from asking a job applicant about their health status before offering the job. And, as I mentioned above, these laws also give qualified individuals the right to reasonable accommodations. A reasonable accommodation may include things like a modified work schedule such as telecommuting or flex time (working the same number of hours but distributed differently over the course of a week so that you can go to treatment) or changes to your workspace or access to technology. One thing to note is that the ADA applies to eligible job applicants and employees of a private employer with fifteen or more employees, or a state or local government of any size, so you might want to think about the size of the company when reviewing jobs. Some states’ laws protect individuals working for employers with fewer than 15 employees. Our partner, Triage Cancer, has a Quick Guide to Cancer-Related Laws by State available at http://triagecancer.org/resources/quickguides.
I've reached out to our career coaches for their insight as well, but in the meantime the following resources might be helpful:
Additionally, I would recommend checking out the section of our Resource Directory focused on Young Adults with Cancer: https://www.cancerandcareers.org/resources/categories/resources-for-young-adults. The SAMFund, Stupid Cancer and the Ulman Foundation might be especially relevant to your situation.
I hope this is helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com or 646-929-8032.
Nicole Franklin, MPH
Senior Manager of Programs
Cancer and Careers
May 24, 2019
It sounds like you have some excellent successes under your belt; holding your cancer at bay and tolerating treatments while achieving your Bachelor's Degree. Congratulations!
But, I also understand that entering the job market after graduation is anxiety-producing, even if one does not face ongoing chemo. It's just a challenging time of life with questions that swirl around all new grads. Where will I be able to get a job? What will I love doing? Will anyone see my value and offer me a job? As a career coach who has worked with hundreds of college grads at major universities, I can attest to the fact that those questions are universal.
Throw your personal situation into the mix and it feels complicated. Here's what I would recommend.
First, read through all the resources on our site and in the links that Nicole sent you. There are lots of great ideas for how to present yourself to a potential employer, along with suggestions for whether or when to disclose your cancer situation. (Personally, I recommend not disclosing until you really have to, in order to avoid any bias that may crop up unexpectedly.)
Next, do some careful self-assessment to determine your strengths, your skills, and your accomplishments while in school. What makes you stand out? Where do you shine? Once those are determined, then research the job market in your area by looking a postings in the online job sites. Don't apply to anything yet. Just read the postings to determine the language that employers use to describe jobs you may be interested in filling. Then, armed with that information and the info about yourself, you are ready to prepare your marketing materials.
Step three, draft a resume that highlights your skills and strengths using language that employers understand. Also draft a cover letter. Share both with our resume review service and take the advice the career coach shares with you. Trust me, they're pros and any recommendations they make are worth their weight in gold.
Finally, once you have your marketing materials and are confident of a few potential areas where you might want to work, start telling everyone you know about your goals and asking for advice and information. This is called the networking stage of a job search. Many people land positions because someone recommends them for the job, or gives them info about jobs that may not even been posted, so networking is essential. Still, you will want to use some of the latest online search resources, too. LinkedIn Job Search, Glassdoor, ziprecruiter, indeed.com. All these sites will be places you will want to check regularly.
Take our job search webinars to brush up on your approach and interviewing skills, too, Kevin. Before you know it, you'll be back to work.
Wishing you a bright future!
Kathy Flora, Career Coach
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