Updated: Oct 6, 2021
This is an iCAN Special Guest Article Written By Anna Schmid, Diversity & Inclusion Talent and Project Specialist, Human Resources, Labcorp Drug Development
We had an exciting iCAN Summit this summer as we talked about careers in life sciences! Many of you have been around healthcare all your lives and said you had been interested in a healthcare career but didn’t see it as a viable career option. Why not? Some said the cost of education and concerns about illness or disability would prevent them from pursuing their dream job.
As a global life sciences company committed to improving people’s lives, we support diversity and inclusion. So, let’s address these issues and get you motivated―because we’d love to see more young people engaged in life sciences. You may have some unique insights because of your real-world experiences.
Awareness is the first key to inclusion and diversity success. We’re thinking about disability in new ways today because there are invisible conditions that people typically don’t talk about, including mental health. We want to make people feel that they are safe and can bring their whole selves to work.
From a disability perspective, if we can’t talk about it, we cannot thrive, so having the freedom to be ourselves is important.
Personally, I have a disability that is visible because I use a mobility scooter (although people can’t see it when I work from home). I appreciate that my company and colleagues make me feel included; I can bring my whole self to my job.
Last year, our company launched an EnABLE group that allows employees with disabilities to discuss concerns in a monthly forum. EnABLE also partners with human resources to enhance recruiting and onboarding for people with disabilities.
The group publishes a monthly newsletter focusing on topics such as disability etiquette and invisible disabilities. Workshops focus on awareness, difficult conversations and allyship. We also offer education and support community outreach to nonprofits.
Let’s get some insights from one of our EnABLE members. Meet Andi, who joined Labcorp as an intern, became a part-time employee and then went full time as she worked through accommodation issues with human resources.
A laboratory scientist specializing in immunology and immunotoxicology, she notes, “I’m like any other scientist; I just have a little extra help from a highly trained service dog. Since I work in early development and spend 30% of my time in the lab, we worked to accommodate my dog appropriately.”
Why join EnABLE?
“I got involved because I was looking for a community within Labcorp where I could relate. Also, I want to support others because having a disability can be a huge barrier to pursuing a job or career. After doing the legwork for my accommodation, I think EnABLE can help streamline this process for young people entering the workforce.”
Andi’s best advice?
“The biggest lesson I have learned is to prioritize myself. It’s okay to take care of yourself first, physically and mentally. Originally, I wanted to be a doctor because my physician was the first person to help me feel better, but I realized that the long road to becoming a doctor was not worth compromising my mental and physical health. I asked myself, ‘What can I do to make healthcare better?’
“We all have dreams and think about doing something big―being that ‘rock star.’ My advice is to prioritize yourself and set boundaries. Understand your passions and pursue a career that works for you. It might look different than your first dream, but that’s alright. It’s also okay to ask for a little help to make your life better.”
COVID-19 has raised many challenges, but there has been a bright spot: Technologies and remote work policies have removed many barriers for people with disabilities, chronic conditions and rare diseases. Working from home levels the playing field and opens huge opportunities, supported by video conferencing technologies such as Teams and WebEx. For progressive employers, flexible working is here to stay. Companies are more attuned than ever to peoples’ personal needs and work-life balance.
As you probably have experienced, while there are difficulties associated with a pandemic―such as isolation―virtual classes do have benefits. You can imagine how remote and flexible work can open doors of access and opportunity, supporting a balance that works for each individual.
We all know that education is expensive, but some resources may surprise you. In some regions, benefits are available to help disabled students access education, and some advocacy groups facilitate scholarship schemes. It is worthwhile to spend some time researching options that may be available to you.
Even if full-time higher education is out of reach for you, you can carry on studying while you work. For example, the Labcorp Education Advantage includes 100% tuition coverage for 20+ undergrad healthcare and life sciences certificates or degrees that support your growth.
The number of companies offering education benefits is slowly growing. We believe that these education programs help retain quality employees who can grow with the company.
Our Global Talent Management department encourages education and career growth for part-time and full-time employees, with paid tuition for 15 science programs available via virtual school for two-year completion. This opportunity is a game-changer for employees who want to get ahead without taking on debt. Another program offers tuition reimbursement for classes.
Then, let’s talk paid internships. If you’re a college student studying STEM, check out our Diagnostic Internships for work that makes a difference and our Drug Development Internships for early careers. Internships are a great way to get insight and experience in your career choice while working with brilliant, inspiring people.
We encourage you to bring your passion and your perspective to life sciences. There is acceptance, educational support and career opportunity available. Pursue your dreams; you can do it! Help make our world a better place―for everyone.
To learn more about Labcorp Drug Development and to be a part of upcoming the 2022 iCAN Summit, visit this link https://www.icanresearch.org/2022-summit. Are you looking for more opportunities for internships and partnerships, then be sure to also visit our iCAN Young Adult Professionals page at https://www.icanresearch.org/ican-young-adult-professionals.