Briefly describe your daily job duties.
I work within the University of Oregon Health Services with an organization called Corona Corps. My duties are to call students and the community around the University who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who are contacts of such. As a Care Team Member, I provide people with resources and support in order to navigate this pandemic.
As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
Definitely making phone calls to people. It goes without saying that making and receiving calls is very challenging as a person who stutters. To deliver the news to someone, maybe for the first time, that they have COVID-19 or that they were in contact with someone who tested positive is never easy to do. This is even harder when you cannot interact with the person face-to-face and see their body language and how they’re feeling. Especially if the person is overwhelmed and anxious, you can feel it and that can make me more anxious and prone to more stuttering.
Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process? If so, how did you do it and how do you currently disclose your stuttering to unsuspecting co-workers, clients and or customers?
Yes, I was interviewed over Zoom and I disclosed my stutter to all my prospective co-workers and supervisors. It felt like a relief and it was nice that people knew and understood that part of me. Currently, I have only disclosed to some co-workers if I have a bad stuttering day where I cannot control it as much or if I am about to make a call for the first time and feel nervous. I haven’t disclosed to people that I call because it is a very small interaction and they are already receiving other information and I don’t want to overwhelm them with stuff. I also haven’t had any issues yet with actual calls.
What is your proudest moment at your current company?
The first call I received was unexpected and I handled it well. I was kind of nervous because I was not expecting an incoming call, but the way it was handled was great. I also handled a confusing call in a professional way despite it not being on the script and despite my stutter.
What are your long-term career aspirations?
For now, I plan on graduating with a B.A. in Global Studies and a Minor in French and pursue my graduate studies. Then, move to Washington D.C. and work as a Foreign Service Officer (a.k.a. diplomat), and specialize in International Development and work for development agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development.
What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
Don’t let your stutter stop you from landing your dream job or getting that job you want. You’re much more capable of performing your duties than you think you are. Your stutter doesn’t define you and it doesn’t define your performance at work. Going out of your comfort zone is definitely something you should try. I don’t regret choosing this job because I know it can push me out of my comfort zone and give me valuable experience.