I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC) in the middle of college and was worried about how my disease would impact my job prospects after graduation. I didn’t think I would ever be able to work or anyone would want to hire me. Not only that, how was I going to tell potential employers about inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?
At my first job interview post diagnosis, I chose to tell the owner of the company about my condition. I really wanted the position and figured it would be better to be honest with her. Plus, I was in the midst of a bad flare, so it felt deceptive to leave that information out. I told her about ulcerative colitis and assured her that I was able to work as hard as anyone else. I said that I’d make up work for any time I was out sick because of UC. She had no problem with any of it and appreciated my honesty. Two weeks later I was hired.
I’ve said the same thing to the three other employers I’ve had since then. Knowing the right moment to share is key, in my opinion. I like to wait until the interviewer asks to hear more about myself or my hobbies. I’ll often say something along the lines of, “I have an autoimmune disease that I’ve learned how to manage very well. There are days when I feel great, but sometimes I will need to go to doctor’s appointments or work remotely.” And then I ask if that’s possible in the company. I’ll also tell employers about my blog, advocacy work, and volunteering. I’ve found that that information is always well-received.