Life After College Graduation
Editor’s Note: For more information on managing type 1 diabetes in college, sign up for Beyond Type 1: College Edition, our email series on all things college + type 1 diabetes (T1D).
“They” were right when we ignored them as children as they warned “Adulthood is hard, be a kid as long as you can.” Still, we strived toward paying bills, being in relationships and interviewing for jobs, among other things, we strived toward adulthood. Always a career-minded person, reaching for my goals have gotten me to the East coast, a place I’ve always envisioned living, and now I am. My reason for relocation was not just passion related, however, but work related.
As a young professional, I can say that having type 1 diabetes both scared me and enabled me to break into the workforce at a young age. I graduated from my university in just three years, with a bachelor’s degree in communication with an emphasis in media studies. Life has been moving quickly ever since I graduated this past May.
Immediately, I wondered how my employer would react to my having type 1 diabetes. I wondered if I would be offered health care benefits, and if I wasn’t being offered them, I wondered if I would I have to move on to the next interview, or the next job? Would there be a “next job”? When was the time to ask questions, and what questions did I need to be asking my potential employers? What about a dental plan, or 401k? These are questions many young professionals managing type 1 diabetes ask themselves, or should be asking, but resist asking their potential employers.
Treating diabetes poorly can lead to so many different health consequences, whether it be hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, ketoacidosis, nerve damage, foot, or kidney problems. Managing independently is key. Enable yourself to positively impact your health. Part of managing your health means managing and realizing your finances and work benefits. Obtaining good insurance is something young professionals with type 1 must consider.
Luckily, there is padding for those who are still under their parent’s health insurance to figure it out, but we can’t let that factor impact being independent. Having type 1 diabetes isn’t an excuse to rely on others instead of relying on yourself. It might be a scary thought—taking care of yourself—but having support is different than reeking benefits. Your mom is always a phone call away!
As a young professional, attitude is everything. Being a positive person with a willingness to learn and striving toward being a leader in the workforce is key. Show your strengths, and don’t let your weaknesses or fears hinder your high spirits. Address your insecurities, whether it be to yourself, with your parents on the phone, or through a face-to-face conversation with your boss. You won’t feel relief until your anxiety is addressed.
Here are the steps I recommend taking as you break into the workforce as a person with Type 1 diabetes:
- Look at what benefit packages the company offers, not just the job description. Know what questions to ask your interviewers, and when to ask them. You probably don’t want to talk about benefits or medical coverage in an initial interview, but if you’re in your second or third interview, or are getting a job offer, it’s important to know what to ask about benefits and insurance plans. These things will be different for every individual, and I’m no expert, but I would write down the questions you have so when you’re in the situation you’re prepared. Your interviewer will be pleased about your readiness to communicate and professionalism.
- Consider your options. If the first job doesn’t seem ideal because you feel your employer won’t take care of your diabetes appropriately, don’t rush into it because you’re desperate to be working. Be patient; slow down. Just because you can handle something, doesn’t mean you should have to. Though it might seem implausible upon graduating from college, realize there will be other jobs. Say “Yes!” to you, when you can’t say “Yes” to the job.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about your job search. Ask them what benefit packages you should be looking for, and what will benefit you most in the workforce. Your provider should be willing to offer you some information and advice about the job hunt, but if not, remember all the resources you have. Ask your family members, professors, or mentors for advice. Emotional support is key.
- Go for the jobs you want. Whether you have type 1 diabetes or not, life is too short to go for what you don’t want. Don’t let having type 1 diabetes scare you into reaching small. Go big, or stay home. If staying home is your “big,” however, that’s a good choice too. Whatever you do, just do you for you!
- Know your rights. When you’re taking on a job for the first time, be honest with your employer about when your blood sugar levels are affecting your work. If your employer starts working you overtime and you’re uncomfortable, know when to ask for breaks or when it’s time to go home. You have a right to stand up for you. Know what reasonable accommodations your employer must provide. Avoid discrimination in the workplace. Don’t see yourself as a victim. Empower yourself beyond your condition. There is a reason you were hired! Be confident in you. Managing diabetes in a new job is just another step.
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