A staircase, but no elevator; a high shelf or a very heavy door: Routine, minor annoyances that most people hardly notice, but potentially insurmountable problems for someone in a wheelchair. Office life constantly throws up obstacles like these, so maybe the disabled should forget about working in “ordinary” companies and limit themselves to workshops for the handicapped or similar institutions?
“No,” Cinderella Glücklich replies, clearly and without hesitation. Yes, she has been disabled since birth and has to spend most of the day in a wheelchair, but she is not going to let that stop her from pursuing her dream of a career in public relations or marketing.
Glücklich has been studying Journalism and Corporate Communications since 2013 in Iserlohn, Germany, and, here at Fresenius, completed an internship in Corporate Communications and Human Resources Marketing. She told us a little bit about some of the difficulties she faces in daily life and, in particular, in searching for a job.
As a disabled person, what is it like searching for a job?
Searching for a job is very difficult for me. There are a lot of bureaucratic obstacles that make it hard for handicapped people to find a job. The barriers in people’s minds are a much bigger problem, though. Many employers refused to hire me because they thought that due to my disability I wouldn’t be able to work. But it’s not like that at all: Working is very important to me, because I want to be independent.
Did you decide at a very young age which career you wanted to pursue?
No, after finishing school, at first I looked for some vocational training. But at the government employment center they only wanted to send me to a training center for the severely handicapped. It seemed like an endless search, but in the end I got a year-long internship in a tourist information office. I really enjoyed that, and it enabled me to complete the work experience requirement for the diploma I needed to attend a technical university. After that, it turned out to be almost as difficult to find the right technical university with wheelchair accessibility. But I am happy in Iserlohn.
You blog about living with a disability. What is your motivation?
In my blog I report first-hand about my life with a disability. I want to break down prejudices. It is very important that people lose their fear of contact with the disabled and the whole issue of disabilities. And it makes me very happy to encourage other disabled people to live their lives in their own way and to live up to their potential.
Why did you decide to do your internship at Fresenius?
I decided to do my internship at Fresenius because I liked that the company helps sick people. And I was completely won over by the uncomplicated way everyone handled my disability, right from the start. They see me as a regular colleague, not just as “the girl in the wheelchair” – and that feels great!