As dyslexics we are often told that there are some jobs that we are just not suited to, or that our unique challenges may make certain professions no go areas. We at The Codpast are having none of that. In our first edition of Jobs for Dyslexics, Anja tells us why being a press officer is a great job for a dyslexic.
Name: Anja Dembina
Age: 32 Title: Press Officer
What does your job role entail?
I work in the Media and PR department at the disability charity Scope.
It’s my role to promote the fantastic work that Scope does – whether that’s a campaign we’re launching, our new research or highlighting the experiences of the disabled people we support. I love my job. Every day is different. When I pick up my phone, I never know what’s coming next…I support journalists, broadcasters and the media with stories they’re working on.
Do you remember your first experience with dyslexia?
I remember always struggling with reading at school and wondering why it took my a lot longer than other people to read books. When I was growing up – I thought I was just a bit thick but it was weird because I didn’t feel like that when talking to people. I was always fine communicating verbally but it was only when I had to put pen to paper that it all fell apart.
How did/does dyslexia affect you?
I am a very slow reader and my grammar is appalling. If we didn’t have computers I definitely couldn’t do my job – spell check is my best friend. It wasn’t until I was at university that I was assessed and told I was dyslexic. They were surprised it had gone undetected for so long but said I had developed my own very sophisticated coping strategies, to get me through. It probably also explains why I dropped out of my A levels – I found the amount of reading too much.
What did you think your job prospects would be at school/college?
I just went with the flow. After dropping out of my A-levels I looked for a practical course to study for higher education. I started off in fashion and then found my way into TV. After 8 years working in TV, I decided to move into PR.
Although, I think having dyslexia knocks your confidence – I never really doubted my ability to be successful, there are just some things I was a bit slower at. It’s a hidden impairment and one that not many people understand. It’s also hard to explain and unless you’re literally writing letters backwards a lot of people just don’t get it.
Did you ever think you would be able to work in the field that you do?
I never imagined I’d be able to work in PR because it involves so much writing – but there’s a lot more to it than that. Yes, good writing skills are crucial – but I manage! Equally, you also have to be able to sell ideas and stories, create good relationships with people and have the confidence to pick up the phone and chat… Which for me is easy!
How did/do you overcome the difficulties you thought you may face in this field?
I’ve never really experienced difficulties. I now just understand that it takes me a while to process information and write my thoughts down clearly. I also have to proof read my work to ensure the grammar is as good as it could be. Practice helps. Writing everyday, especially when it’s for tight deadlines has enabled me to be efficient in what I do.
Do you think this is a role that is suitable for dyslexics and what do you think a dyslexic brings to the role?
I definitely think PR is good for dyslexics and anyone who is confident writing copy and has good communication skills. It’s a creative job so perfect for most dyslexics or at least the ones I know anyway!
What do you think a dyslexic would find hard?
Writing quickly and reading and interpreting lengthy documents. But if you have good coping strategies you’ll manage.
What is your most effective coping strategy?
To be honest I don’t know – my mind has evolved to help me!
Paperbacks, eBooks, audiobooks or other?
My kindle – text is clearer, bigger and it’s easier to keep track of where you are in a book!
What was that last book you read/listened to?
Agatha Christie – Murder on the orient express. Book club choice – not mine!
Preferred way to keep up with Current Affairs:
Newspapers, TV, social media and podcasts
Assistive Tech or O’natural?
My tech ability is pretty basic. I mainly stick to using my iPhone or Mac at home/ PC at work.
Communication in the workplace:
Email, Phone, Skype?
Mainly email and phone. Skype occasionally if people can’t meet in person because they live in a different city etc.
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