Finding a job in your twenties is difficult. Getting a job with a disability can be even harder. Going up against thousands of job seekers in the capital is a tough challenge. Put all three elements together and it’s no surprise that India Johnston, 24, from Greenwich, is elated at a contract extension with a top global insurance firm.
“As an administration assistant in Lockton’s London HQ, I began work in 2014 after completing my studies at The Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) in Hereford," says India. "Many of the skills I learnt at RNC were helpful for a working environment, including IT and Business and Administration. Finding the job, however, was not such a simple task…
"I worked hard on my CV and I sent out about twenty initially to the major banks, City institutions and biggest retail companies; the responses were disappointing as I only had two replies. Lockton invited me to meet with the CEO who interviewed me about what I did at RNC. He invited me for six weeks’ work experience, where I spent time with most departments in the company. At the end of that time each department wrote a report to provide feedback; the outcome was I would be working for four different departments within the company. The mock interviews at RNC were very helpful; the more interviews I’ve had the more confident and less nervous I get.
"In a varied role, I work with senior management assistants, HR, IT and in the Post Room. My main duties include making reservations, researching flight and train times, scanning and logging journals; filing, and creating welcome packs for new starters; amending the global associate directory; and, completing the post run, setting up meeting rooms and banking. I get around my visual impairment by using magnification, whether that is on the computer or by using a hand-held magnifier – this is particularly useful in the post room, as many envelopes have a small print address label and I read large print at font size 14.
"Working three days a week, and often a fourth, I began on a one year contract, which was renewed for another year. In early April, I received news that a further extension was being offered and I was thrilled to get a letter confirming my two-year extension. I would love to continue working for Lockton as I am learning new skills and it is a wonderful company. The staff at Lockton are very welcoming and friendly and I have been made to feel one of the team.
"Having lived in Greenwich for many years, I don’t find travelling around London too daunting, although it can be for people with visual impairments. My route to work takes around thirty minutes by train, but if the trains are not running I’ll arrive by DLR or boat.
I had a fantastic personal experience at RNC and would highly recommend it to someone who has a visual impairment. It has great facilities, pastoral care and great accommodation. The staff and students were friendly and supportive and I have made a lot of friends who I still hear from now.”
India demonstrates perfectly that the specialist college builds confidence and abilities in all areas of a person’s life, from independent travel to qualifications and work-based learning experience, to being prepared to begin a new career. For more information on the courses offered at RNC, click the link below or call 01432 376 621.