Mod Note (Andy) - We're reposting the top discussions from 2015, this one ranks #15 and was originally posted 11/1/2015.
Hey everyone! I have been following this site and enjoyed contents from different kind of people. Since my experience is unique, I decided to post this and see what your thoughts are. (It might be.... slightly long post, but hope you will read it!)
I was born profoundly Deaf and uses American Sign Language exclusively. I lip read decently, but not reliable. I went to a deaf school K-12 and Gallaudet University's business school for BS in Business Admin.
I had an internship at National Public Radio and it was my first exposure to the corporate environment as a Deaf person. Of course, I was nervous as hell. Because I went to deaf schools growing up, it was my first time interacting and working with hearing people. I played in soccer teams as the only Deaf person without an interpreter all the time growing up, but in soccer you just play. If you want the ball, you just yell (probably with deaf voice, but it still gets you the ball!).
After working there for months, I eventually realized that I am on same level with others, if not higher. Because I had a lot to prove, I hustled hard core by meeting with everyone in the office and make sales calls (related to a project they had and they needed to recruit volunteers). I used Sorenson video relay service, where you can make calls by signing to interpreters on your iPhone (think FaceTime).
There were three interns in my department (from Harvard, Oxford and American University) and I ended up becoming the project leader. Why? I got things done faster than anyone and I brought in plenty of new ideas. The point of telling this story - I realized that it is all about interpersonal skills, work ethic and your ability to lead and get things done.
At NPR, I use three communication methods:
National Public Radio was great to provide sign language interpreters for meetings. Having an interpreter is all I need and have 100% (well, almost) access to everything.
2. iPad with keyboard
I carried iPad with me like it is my life saving. When I stop by an employee's office, I use iPad with a keyboard attached to chat and discuss stuff. You can speak to iPad and it will automatically translate into text. Some would just type, depends on their preference.
All employees use e-mail to communicate as well, but it is extremely important for me to be an email ninja. If you suck at emails, you will fail as an A+ Deaf employee.
After interning at NPR, I realized that I did not want to go into marketing so I went to a 2nd tier MSF program to learn more about finance, graduating this Dec. My goal is to get into entry-leveland eventually run my own firm. I have a couple of 2nd round interviews lined up and still looking for more opportunities. I was able to win 2nd round interviews by doing those things:
1) Be open about my deafness. I introduced myself to the interviewer and let him/her know what they should expect from interviewing me with an interpreter.
2) Mention that I am probably one of the best problem-solvers out there. Why? I overcome barriers of being Deaf every day and here I am in the interview room where many of my hearing friends were dying to get. Not able to figure out whymodel does not work? Piece of cake.
3) Out work other candidates by miles. I want to emphasize this -- I will always have to outwork everyone in a company, from top to bottom. For all interviews, I studied each company extensively and prepare potential interview questions excessively well. To put a final dagger in, I hand in a stock valuation report (with 3-statement, DCF, and comp models) and areport and walk them through them.
I am still looking for a right opportunity for myself and my career. I would love to hear your perspective from other side of the table and learn from them.
Questions for you guys
-If you had a Deaf person coming in your interview, what kind of questions you would want to know? You probably won't be able to ask them professionally, but what things you want them to address? I am sure a person who never met a Deaf person before probably have some doubts.
-If a person cold-emailed you and introduced him/herself as Deaf, would you be more inclined to answer or help? Would you prefer them to introduce themselves as Deaf in the first e-mail or later in the conversation?
-What are some things Deaf people could do to make you feel more open to the idea of hiring and working with them?
-What advice would you give me as a Deaf person looking to break in the industry?
P.S. While I am working to break in, I am also writing a how to break in an industry guide for Deaf people. Such as - how to network as a Deaf person, what to say in interviews and types of things they would need to overcome and how to deal with them. Frankly, there is virtually no brutally honest guidance for Deaf people to be successful. Your advice and thoughts will be helpful for me and many other Deaf people!