By Mollie Rolfe
My name is Mol. I’m currently a management trainee intern in Enterprise’s Midlands group, and I’m only a few months into my placement. I’m also dyslexic.
My dyslexia is fairly severe, however it does differ on a day-to-day basis. I was always the kid at primary school to be in the ‘special’ groups, the ones for the ‘slow’ kids. However I came out with top marks in my SATs.
In secondary school I was in the top set for everything, however once again I was put in those ‘special’ groups. The first time that someone finally clicked that something might not be quite right was in my final year, half way through my exams, when I got an A* in a short answer question paper and a D in a multiple choice paper, but they were both on the same topic.
After my parents urged the school to look into why I had got this result, they arranged for me to be tested. After 3 hours in a room doing numerous tests the lady finally came to the conclusion that I was a ‘bit’ dyslexic and had some visual stress.
She suggested using a yellow overlay for my reading as well as having yellow paper to write on in exams. It worked well! I came out of school with 11 solid GCSEs.
Once I moved on to college I decided to declare on the application form that I was slightly dyslexic, so the college called me in and tested me themselves. After another few hours of tests they came to the conclusion that I was actually dyslexic – not just a ‘bit’ – and also slightly dyspraxic. It was a nice feeling to know that after so many years of trying so hard yet not getting the grades I should have and not knowing why, I now finally had an answer.
After working hard through college but only coming out with okay results I still decided to go on to University to do a business degree. Three years later I’m currently on my placement year and I’ve have come out with pretty decent results in university, if you take into consideration all the difficulties I’ve encountered. I really couldn’t be more proud of myself.
I chose to apply for many undergraduate placement schemes and after a long hard debate with myself I chose to say I was dyslexic on the application form. After a few declined applications, I finally had a call from Enterprise to invite me for a job interview.
I sat down with Gabriella, Enterprise recruiter for the Midlands, and answered all the questions. I was also asked to talk about my dyslexia and how it affects me as well as what Enterprise could do to help me. Gabriella and the Enterprise team couldn’t have been more helpful and welcoming.
After finally getting through all the stages in the application process it really came down to the assessment centre. It’s fair to say I was nervous, as anybody else in the same position would be too, but this heightens my dyslexia, putting me more on edge and affecting my ability to think straight.
I qualify for 25% extra time in exams and without me asking for it Gabriella and the team had already printed everything on yellow paper for me and had offered me extra time for each of the assessments. I couldn’t have been more thankful.
I was offered the position a few days later, and I was over the moon. Six months later in June I started.
How does it affect my day-to-day tasks
A large percentage of the job involves reading as well as verbal and written communication. It is part of everyday life at Enterprise, reading notes on the computer systems, e-mails, communication with other employees and senior colleagues and most importantly customers.
One of the things I was nervous about was my sales pitch to prospective clients. To begin with I kept stumbling up and not being able to get my words out properly in front of customers and therefore confusing them and normally not being able to get the sale.
I lacked confidence and my dyslexia jumbled everything up. I started to get frustrated with myself; however my manager at the time was brilliant and completely understood where and why I was struggling. She took the time to go through everything with me until I had it right and to this day I’m still grateful.
Eight months on and my manager and team at the moment are brilliant and couldn’t be more helpful. I decided to be open about it and tell them I had dyslexia but not making a big deal out of it. However, they all understand I sometimes have difficulties with new tasks and will come and help me and explain it in a different way until I understand it. It may take an extra 5 minutes but they don’t mind, as long as by the end I understand. I am thankful for them for this and they don’t realize how much of an impact they have.
The culture in Enterprise is such an open, fun and friendly one where everyone doesn’t mind helping. Everyone knows what it’s like to be a trainee as that’s how everyone joined. Everyone’s gone through the same process and experiences. My manager is more than happy for me to ask a million and one questions about something just so that I can understand it.
I do have days were I really do struggle. There have been a number of times I have nearly gone to the wrong house to collect a customer as I read the address as ‘63’ instead of ‘36’ and I’ve been sat in my car trying to locate the right house, as the street only goes up to number 50!
I have learnt strategies to help me on these difficult days, I also asked Gabriella for a yellow overlay if it was possible, and shortly after it was there on the desk.
I have also learnt to adopt coping strategies from other employees within Enterprise, as well as essential organisational tips. My favourite at the moment is my little ‘to do’ list; it works a treat and lets me organise what I still have to do and just makes it a lot easier to plan for, something I hadn’t really tried before, but it works miracles. I urge people to try it!
Enterprise has been brilliant throughout my whole experience; they have never once seen my dyslexia as a disadvantage or a pain. They have helped me cope in my day-to-day working life and they are so open and helpful about it and are always there if you need to talk.
My advice is simple, shout out if you are struggling or think you have a problem, the worst thing you can do is keep it to yourself. People are here to help and come up with solutions that help you and make it easier for you. Dyslexia can be difficult to deal with but I refuse to let it define me or hold me back.