Internship: Bipolar in the Workplace
This is crazy. Bipolar and internship themes are not just crossing in my mind, they’re crossing now at work. I had to make a decision, and I hope it pays off. I need some support; I’m scared.
Go figure, this is so my life.
It’s been about two days since I started being more public and less afraid of the stigma of bipolar, as anyone who has read the last few posts of this blog knows. I said, at the beginning of “Stubbourn Through Stigma” that I thought maybe I’d get a few months before this became an issue. But alas.
And now, I thought maybe I’d get a few weeks before “public on the Internet” became “public in real life”. But alas.
I intern at a publishing company that has a few different magazines. There is also a not for profit with it’s own magazine operating out of the same office. The editor in chief is in charge of both. She is an amazing woman; high standards, powerful, in control. I admire her.
The NFP and publication’s whole theme is supporting people with disabilities. I got involved with this group because I wanted experience in publishing and editing; if I ended up writing about Kim Kardashian’s handbags I would have been happy. It was a cherry on top to work somewhere with subject matter that resonated with my personal life. The assumption was that it’d make me better at my job, which it has, but it also brought about the concerns and questionings of the last couple posts.
I heard whispers around the office that there was a new internship program happening for the NFP side of things. With potential for an “honourarium”.. Which means money. The internship would be for students with disabilities. Not only that, but that they are having trouble finding interns for this.
Pick me, my heart screams. I need that. I need the experience, I need the money, I need the support. Please, facilitate my future. I’m sitting right here!!!
But I can’t express interest in it without revealing my secret. Oh how the universe likes to test me: Am I a hypocrite? Am I willing to dive right in to what scares me? Opportunities like this are not to be discarded lightly.
Opportunity: not just for money and career advancement, but to walk the walk.
I’ve already talked the talk! I did it literally yesterday!! So what will I do? Will I hide behind the curtain or embody the spirit of my ideals?
Well I won’t keep you in suspense; I dove right in. Tactfully, I approached my boss (not the editor in chief; the one who hired me, who I feel more comfortable around) while she was eating lunch. I waited until she was alone and gave her space, even after everyone else had gone for lunch.
I got a glass of water from the lunch room, then chickened out. Then, I drank it all down at my desk, fretting, then went and got more. This time I spoke up, asking a very broad question about what the publishing group does to support people in the workplace with disabilities. It was all framed by my curiosity based on the research I’ve been doing the past few days.
Well, she told me about how the magazines just focus on publishing, but that the NFP has an internship program they’re just starting up…
… Heheh… Oh really…
So I asked a few more questions and was genuinely shocked to find out that it would be starting a month or so from now. Woah!! That is so within my reach!
so if you know someone who might be interested….
And then went back to her salad.
This was the decision point; speak up or shut up.
I might be interested, actually.
She looked at me a moment, then nodded, and we agreed to talk about it at a better time, which ended up being right before the end of the day.
We discussed some of the details, which were:
1. Would I be comfortable with the editor in chief, and possibly everyone else in the office, knowing that I have a disability?
2. It isn’t a requirement, but would it be a possibility to bring in a note from my doctor?
3. Possibility for control and voice in how the details of my disability are handled outside of the office
4. Whether or not I, being a Liberal Studies major, would be qualified and have the necessary skills to be effective in the position (a similar position to the one I currently hold. I reminded them that I’m an English minor, a fast learner, that this current gig is going well, and that I’m willing to read and learn on the side to bring my skills up to their expectations.)
It was probably beneficial for me that today, the editor in chief sought me out to edit an article quickly. She figured I would have trouble understanding her edits (and you should have seen the pages they were chock full of pencil notes and scratches), but it was no different than the challenges of the previous semester of school. I did a good job, and did it quickly. It’s hard to tell but I think I’m making a good impression on her. Oh, oh, I hope so.
But seriously, I’m sort of protected by the fact that they can’t discriminate against me based on what my disability is. I’m sure it’d be more visually impactful for them to have someone in a wheelchair, but I shouldn’t have to justify my diagnosis. My life is affected, every single day. There’s so much I’ve reconciled and endured and overcome. There are so many challenges I still face.
Plus, I asked them a few days ago whether they considered bipolar a disability, and they said yes.
So. There’s the update. My “extreme” self-confidence has led me here. My sense is that my whole life hangs on this opportunity; and doesn’t it? I need this money, I may not be able to afford school next semester… This would put me almot at the point of being able to feel safe knowing I can continue with it.
Ugh. I need a hug.