In this post you can read about my internal placement with the events team at MDUK in their London office. You will get a glimpse of what I got up to during the placement and hear my thoughts on it!
I want to briefly shine some light in on my own disability. After years and years of various symptoms and pains that seemed unrelated, I was told by a physiotherapist that I was hypermobile. Hypermobility in itself can be totally fine, but in some cases, like in mine, the flexibility of your joints starts to work against you causing chronic pain. This is because the muscles have to over-work when your joints cannot do their work like they should. The flexibility is caused by genetically weak tissue, and it can also affect many other things like digestion. When the hypermobility is causing pain and other symptoms, the condition is called hypermobility syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, EDS. There are various types of EDS, and it is still frustratingly hard to receive a diagnosis and not being scoffed off by doctors who claim you are faking the pain. Kind of like with muscular dystrophies, more research needs to be done with hypermobility related conditions to find the right treatments and cures.
Receiving my diagnosis, even though it gave an explanation to the mysterious pains that the multiple doctor visits, MRI scans, physiotherapy, and hours of googling different diseases could not explain, was not the easiest thing. I had to come to the terms that I will most likely have frequent pain and be on pain medication for the rest of my life. It also made me worried about the future and how I would be able to cope in the world of work. What if I get bad pains at work? What if my fatigue affects my productivity?
Because of this uncertainty about the future and the end of my university fast approaching, I decided to attend a workshop on disabled rights at my university, put on by MDUK. There I met Edita, who hosted the workshop and got me interested in the work of MDUK. She also helped me through the process of getting the placement. MDUK was able – and willing – to accommodate all of my needs, so that the placement would be as enjoyable and smooth as possible and so that I could get the most out of it. Because of my fast-approaching final exams, we agreed I would work once a week, every Monday. Originally the placement was only supposed to last for a few weeks, but ended up being extended by month, since it was going so well.
Even though once a week does not seem that much, I was able to do so many different things and learnt so much during the course of the placement. Working with the events team offers you great variety, since they work with multiple events across the year, so it never gets too tedious! I happened to start my placement during the final preparations of the fundraising run series Town and Gown. This one was held in Oxford and I eventually ended up going there to volunteer! It was great to see how my work contributed to the event and see how MDUK’s work was bringing together people who want to help others.
During the placement I was given various tasks and got to work on multiple events. I was doing a lot of research and data analysis on Excel, which definitely improved my research skills in a different way than what writing essays for university had done. I learnt how to use various online platforms to create designs, text, and even surveys. I was gathering materials (lots of printing!) together and sending them to volunteers and people who took part in different events. On top of all of that I started learning how to use the database software Raiser’s Edge, which is used by most charities and thus a great skill to have on your CV. Even though I only worked once I week, I was able to develop my skills more than I thought I was going to! It just proves how the seemingly minor work or volunteering opportunity you get can prove extremely helpful!
I have to give a massive shout out to the Events team at MDUK. They are such a lovely bunch and made me feel very welcome and part of the team! It made the whole experience a whole lot better when I got to work with such dedicated and amazing people. Overall the atmosphere at MDUK is really welcoming and it is a great place to get the experience you need. Before this placement, I had no previous experience of what it is like to work in the office. Now I know better how my body reacts to the office environment (like sitting most of the day) and I know what kind of adjustments I might need in the future. Before, I had not even realised how many great charities there are in the UK, and that working for one would be a great way for me to do work with a meaning, which has always been one of my goals. I am truly grateful for having been given this opportunity. As it turns out, I was also extremely lucky to land a temporary position at MDUK as a Supporter Services Assistant at the end of this placement.
If you get the opportunity to work, intern, or even volunteer at MDUK, go for it, you deserve it!
I want to say special thanks to my supervisor Lauren, you are truly fab, and to Edita, the most kind and beautiful person inside out!