Working and CF for Teens

You may be getting to an age where you want to enter the workforce in full-time or part-time employment, either to start off your career or for a job to provide you with some extra income. The world of paid employment can be very rewarding, educational and a great way to make friends. But as a young person in the workforce, and also as someone who has CF, it is worth considering a few things to ensure you are getting the most out of your work experience.

Things to consider to take care of your health while at work

  • Will you be exposed to chemicals, pathogens or bugs e.g. (jobs in agriculture, working with animals, laboratory work) which might affect your health? If so, what protective equipment does the company provide? How long will the exposure be?
  • Will the job be physically demanding? Will you be standing on your feet for long periods of time? Can you cope with this? What will you do if you are not feeling well? If you choose a trade or job which is physically demanding, look for a company that has options to change to other less physically demanding roles in the future – if possible.
  • What are your energy levels like? Do you tire easily? If so, a job where you can sit down more often may be more suitable.
  • What are your requirements for your treatment and hospital appointments/admissions? You can negotiate with the CF clinic in regards to the times of your appointments and admissions.
  • What are the employment conditions like? Are there flexible work arrangements? What is the sick leave allowance?
  • What is the work environment like? Do they have a place where you can do your treatment if need be? Will you need to store some medication in the fridge?
  • What is the company policy on illness and is it widely available e.g. on the company’s website?
  • You could ask these questions of a few companies before you apply for a job so you get a feel for what different companies offer. Sometimes the information can be easily found on the company’s website.

Plan for what you want to do

  • Think of what type of work you would like to do and what you are capable of doing, physically and mentally. Think of what your interests are; could any of these be related to a particular job?
  • Make a list of all the businesses around your local area where you are interested in working, and places which are easy to get to by public transport (if you aren’t driving yet or it will be tricky for mum or dad to drive you to work).
  • Make a list of all the people you know who may be able to offer you a job, such as the parents of your friends, your relatives, the next-door neighbor, friends of your parents. Do any of your friends have jobs where the company is hiring? These are the people you can ask if there are any positions available at their work. Let everyone know you are looking for work as they might keep you in mind if something does come up. This is a very common way that people find work – through someone they know.
  • Do some work experience or voluntary work at a few places to build up your resume. There are many charity/not-for-profit organisations who are very happy to have volunteers for a variety of events they run or services they provide.
  • Sign up with a job agency. Job agencies are based in metro and regional areas and assist people to find employment opportunities which suit their needs and goals. A job agency can assist you in transitioning from school to work. They can source employment placements, traineeships, work experience placements, on-the-job training and mentoring.

Self employment

Some people with CF prefer to run their own business, often from home. This alternative can allow for more flexibility in work hours, being your own boss and being able to do something which is of great interest to you.

Examples of small businesses

  • web-based business e.g. selling clothing, craft or second-hand items such as books
  • baby-sitting, being a nanny
  • web designer
  • house sitter
  • party planner
  • personal trainer
  • fashion blogger
  • pet care e.g. dog walking, pet grooming or pet sitter

Tips for writing job applications

Writing a resume

  • Not all jobs you apply for will require a resume but it is handy to have one just in case, and it also maps out what your current skills and work experiences are.
  • Even if you haven’t had a formal job, there may be many things you have done at home and at high school which can count as work experience such as baby sitting, working on a group project at school, helping your parents or grandparents with their mobile phone or computer.
  • You can find examples of resumes or resume templates on the internet, or ask a few people you know if you can have a look at their resumes for ideas.
  • Make sure you proofread your resume and also ask someone to check it over to pick up any typos. There should be no errors at all on your resume. When employers are looking at resumes they can instantly dismiss a resume which has errors in it, even if it is a great resume, as it shows that the person does not have attention to detail.

Approaching businesses for work

  • As well as looking online for jobs such as Seek or Career One, you can approach companies in person, too. Being persistent can often pay off. It can be worth approaching a company a few times if it is somewhere you really want to work.
  • It can also be the case when looking for work, that you have to put out many many job applications and you may receive a few knockbacks. This can be quite disheartening, but if you keep persisting you will eventually succeed.

Tips for job interviews

There is no doubt that job interviews can be scary!! Even adults who have been to many job interviews still find them daunting. The employer is seeking the best person for the job who will also “fit” in with their work environment.  In some cases, if you are unsuccessful in gaining a particular job, it can be a blessing in disguise as you might find something even better. You can’t control who you are competing with for the job you are after or what type of person the employer is looking for, but you can control how you look and act during an interview.

  • Dress the part: It is extremely important that you dress smartly for a job interview as it lets the employer know you are serious about the job. Employers can make a judgment on you in just a few seconds, so looking as well groomed as possible can really add to providing a good first impression.
  • Appear confident: It is completely normal to feel nervous during a job interview, but if you can, try and control your body language and mannerisms as much as possible e.g. keep your hands still. Employers know that it is daunting for the interviewee and they just want to know if your experiences and personality are suited to the position. Sometimes nerves can get in the way of you being able to put your best foot forward. Practice doing a mock interview with someone in your family before your scheduled interview.
  • Be yourself: Even though you may be nervous it is best to be genuine and honest during interviews. Employers can often tell if a person is not being honest. There is nothing wrong with making things sound extra great (this is marketing yourself!!) but if you really don’t know the answer to a question, it is best to be honest.
  • Be prepared: Find out what you can about the position and the company in advance. It will be more impressive to the employer if you have done this. It can be very off putting to employers if the interviewee hasn’t looked into the basic history or background of the company or the services it provides.   
  • Talk to your family and friends: Ask family and friends about the types of questions they have been asked during job interviews and think about what might be asked of you at your job interview. Brainstorm some potential answers which demonstrate how your skills and experience match the position.

Starting work

Disclosing you have CF

It is an individual choice to disclose that you have CF during a job interview or once you gain work.  If you are asked during the interview stage about having any health conditions, it is best to answer in a straightforward way. However, disclosing that you have CF (if not asked about health conditions) can put you and the company in a difficult position. If you feel you can easily do the job as it is presented to you, it may not be necessary to disclose at this stage that you have CF.

The decision to hire you should be based on your ability to perform the physical and mental tasks of the job.  If you need to provide references for the job, make sure you brief your referees on whether you want them to mention that you have CF or not.

Once you are offered a position, you do not have to mention that you have CF, however, if you plan to stay at the job for a longer period of time, you may need to disclose having CF if it is likely that you will need time off for hospital appointments or admissions.  You don’t have to let everyone know, just your line manager.

When you are settled into your job, it might be a good idea to think ahead about how you will manage any future absences from work.  Does your workplace allow you to “bank” the time you work, so you have a bank of hours up your sleeve in case you do need time off?

Sick leave entitlements

What are the sick leave entitlements? They can be different for casuals, part-timers and full-time employers.

Fair Work Ombudsman

When you join the workforce in Australia, there are basic entitlements that you should be aware of.

The Fair Work Ombudsman is a government agency who protect and enforce the workplace rights and entitlements of employees. Their role includes helping employees, employers and the community to understand and comply with the Australian workplace laws.  Their website is www.fairwork.gov.au  and the information line is 13 13 94.

They have developed an employment checklist which you may find really useful and it can be downloaded from their website.

The types of things you may want to check are your leave entitlements including sick leave, that your pay is correct for your age, how much tax will you have to pay etc.

Article from REDteen, 2014.

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