Ben Davison, 28, is on the Civil Service Fast-Stream programme.
He graduated in 2000, with a degree in politics from the London School of Economics. He has Cerebral Palsy.
What’s your background?
After I graduated, I went to law school. But while I was there, I realised I’d just be in law for the money. I decided I wanted to do something more worthwhile, where my abilities would be employed for something more than just financial gain. I felt the civil service would provide me with that. It didn’t occur to me that I’d be discriminated against in a negative way. After all, the main expression of my disability is that I generally need a walking stick because I lose my balance more than most people.
So, while it’s more of an effort for me to move around than for others – and that can sometimes make me feel quite tired – I knew it wouldn’t have a major effect on a desk job.
How did you handle your job hunt?
The odds aren’t good when you make an application to the fast-stream programme. Only about three of every 100 people who apply actually get an offer. But I had confidence in my own intellectual ability.
Did you face any barriers?
I was aware of the potential for my disability to be a barrier. But my perception was that there is a much greater awareness of diversity in the public sector, where people come from very varied backgrounds. I actually felt that my disability might be a positive thing because there are targets. Although, admittedly, that made me feel slightly uncomfortable because I didn’t want to be recruited on the basis that I ticked a box for them and not on what I could do.
Any tips for fellow graduates?
I think one of the most important things – and this is true wherever you work – is that if you have a choice of post, pick one with a line manager that you feel you’ll be able to develop a good working relationship with. I’m lucky that I do have a good line manager now, but that hasn’t always been the case. The fact that I can get quite tired as a result of my disability became an issue. As a graduate, you can feel reluctant to rock the boat, but I wouldn’t be so slow in coming forward next time.