PWS Internship Evaluation: From Professional Fashion to Process Design

This week Lysbeth and I were able to debrief Pasadena, do some class planning, and go over my internship evaluation. She gave me 5’s down the line for the internship evaluation with the one exception of a 4 in professional dress. We actually did not talk about that 4, but it is not surprising given our cultural and age differences. Professional appearance is something I really struggle with, not because I dress immodestly or poorly, but as a larger (yet not “large”) woman with limited funds I find it incredibly difficult to find clothes that work with my body type, are comfortable and movable for doing facilitation work, and are affordable. In addition, various symptoms of my multiple sclerosis are constantly on my mind when choosing clothes to wear. For example, in Pasadena where it was 95+ degrees, I had to be mindful of my heat intolerance, or knowing that my bladder can become an issue at any time I tend towards athletic fabrics that won’t show an accident and that I have multiple pairs of so I can easily change with little to-do. And don’t get me started on shoes! When you can’t feel your feet, it is really hard to wear anything cute, let alone anything with a heel.

Professional appearance aside, Lysbeth talked mainly about how impressed she was with my understanding of group process design, as well as my ability to jump into a completely different culture and get quickly up to speed to make sense of the case development I was doing. She mentioned that there would have been no way that she could have taken on the Pasadena contract without having help. This comment made me further think about the value of having a partner for consulting, it can be really difficult to take on solo contracting: it is either feast or famine, and when there is a feast it is hard to be both in the kitchen and playing host. We didn’t talk much about my role in assisting with the class, other than my focus on detail and organization being key for managing the many moving pieces of role plays. Finally, we talked about the use of cloud tools that I have introduced to increase efficiency, such as google documents and students signing up using WeJoinIn.

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Four Pairs of Pants and Professionalism (week of September 9)

This trip to Astoria has forced me to confront head on some of the obstacles of being a young professional with multiple sclerosis.  Compared to my other trip to Washington, this one has required me and given me the opportunity to do more field work in terms of actually visiting the beaches and areas in question.  It has been awesome to have a job that involves hiking and beach going, but it has also brought up the reality of my life as a disabled person.

One of the difficulties has been carrying equipment on my own. Many of the beaches and locales I’ve been asked to get b roll footage of are areas that I could really benefit from using my two canes. Unfortunately, two canes, a camera pelican case, and a big tripod requires at least one additional arm than the average human possess.  Overall, I’ve made it work, but being on assignment on my own is a bit cumbersome.

The real difficulty has been my bladder. I have had four full bladder accidents in public on this trip. Horribly embarrassing episodes that left me desperately clawing through my luggage for yet another pair of pants and madly searching for the nearest discrete restroom to sneak away to.  Luckily these incidents have happened in between my interviews, so it hasn’t been obvious to anyone but me that my outfit has changed from one person to the next.

I’m proud of myself for soldering on and not letting the more humiliating aspects of my disease stop me from getting my job done and pursuing my passion. But I hate that I have to deal with such nonsense and I hate the potential limitations it places on my future ambitions.