By Elaine Brewer
As an organisation that strives to be an inclusive employer, we were very grateful for the recent opportunity to work with Inclusion Scotland to offer an internship to a disabled person.
We were delighted to work recently with Inclusion Scotland, who create internship opportunities exclusively for disabled people. With their support we were able to offer a six-month internship to 25 year-old Gillian Johnstone, who is visually and hearing impaired.
Before Gillian completed her placement in May, we caught up with her on highlights and learnings from her time with us.
Tell us about your role with the National Park:
Well, this is my first experience in a workplace and the Corporate Services Team, who I was placed with, were brilliant and accommodating. I supported on strategic plans work, such as the Draft National Park Partnership Plan, which has provided me with huge insight on how large-scale plans are managed.
What have been your highlights and challenges?
As part of my placement, I got to do a five-day project management course and qualification, which is valuable to take to other roles and will help me in the future. Even just to be in an office environment, meeting and engaging with colleagues, was fun. And I especially enjoyed being out and about in the National Park – like visiting the new Conic Hill path. In terms of challenges, this placement has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, but I appreciate that’s what’s sometimes needed to develop.
What do you think the National Park can learn from the experience?
Don’t hold back on having a full and varied program of work for an intern to do, so that both parties get the most out of the experience.
What’s next for you?
Having graduated in 2021 from Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) in Countryside Management, my future ambitions would be to work in a scientific field, perhaps concentrating on conservation and biodiversity loss.
And finally, we heard you love your dogs and being outdoors, tell us a bit more about your hobbies.
I adore my three dogs – Cocoapoo Brody, Sprocker Bailey and Cocker Spaniel Kenzie and we’re often out hill walking and tackling Munros, I’ve done 82 so far! My less active hobbies include reading scientific articles and watching animal documentaries.
This experience not only benefited Gillian, but our organisation too. Gillian’s manager Samantha Stubbs said “Gillian was a fabulous addition to the Corporate Performance Team, adding an entirely different perspective to work across the organisation.
We’ve taken many valuable learnings from the experience that we can use to better support employees and interns with additional needs, such as assessing the accessibility of our workplace, and being mindful of the suitability of tasks given to staff.
None of this would have been possible without the support of Inclusion Scotland, but most importantly Gillian herself, who was prepared to get stuck into tasks and provide comprehensive feedback on elements of work.”