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Guest Post: T1D - Executive Officer: July 2007 - Present.

Diabetes is a full time job.  Even when it's going smoothly and you don't need to drag the printer out back to beat the crap out of it (oh, Office Space), it's still not the easiest disease to stay on top of every day.  And today, by way of guest post, Robert Coombs (of Omnipod dancing man fame) is tackling age-old question (as of today) of "What would diabetes look like on my resume?" 

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As someone who hires people from time to time and someone who has obviously been hired, I often think about how one translates their work and life experiences into language that shows employers they are worth being invested in. I became more acutely aware of the importance of such a skill recently when my wife (who is an obscenely talented singer) began her job search here in New York where we recently relocated for my job. As a professional singer for the last dozen plus years, she's gained incredibly skills in networking, event planning, public speaking and rocking people's faces off from the stage. So it's just a matter of committing that to paper, right?

It got me pondering what my "second job" as a diabetic has taught me and what that could tell people about me. In a sense, it is a lifelong career (no retirement here) that requires a level of commitment, problem-solving and expertise that rivals most 9-5 gigs. It doesn't come with the paycheck, benefits, or accolades that follow employment in the traditional sense, though I routinely proclaim to anyone that will listen that "I'm practically a doctor."

So here goes. If I had to explain the skills and tasks that come with being a type 1 diabetic, it would look something like this:

T1D - Executive Officer - July, 2007-Present
  • Served as the primary staff and strategist for a lifelong sustainability project.
  • Recruited, coordinated and directed a team of healthcare professionals with routine contacts regarding project maintenance, innovation and performance.
  • Studied the latest research in endocrinology, nutrition, and skincare in an effort to integrate new discoveries into existing treatment methodology.
  • Identified and achieved measurable outcomes on a quarterly and annual basis with 90% success over 5 years.
  • Adhered to a strict schedule with more than a dozen discrete and complex tasks performed daily including the use of data analysis, algorithmic decision making, and constant multitasking.
  • Nearly 2000 consecutive days without a single absence or vacation.
I don't actually have this on my resume. It's a very personal issue and all too easily could be misconstrued in the formal process of being a job applicant. But it's interesting to think about how diabetes has changed me as a person, a husband, and a worker. The list can go on and on, but in the end, there are few people that can definitively prove they are capable of mastering such a complex system of competing interests and doing it with precision day in and day out.

What have you learned as a diabetic or someone who's helping to manage diabetes that would make your resume look even better?

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This man discovered the dancing man in his Omnipod.  I have a lot of respect for that discovery.  Robert Coombs was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2007 at the age of 28. He lives in Brooklyn, NY and he accessorizes his wardrobe daily with a Dexcom 7 CGM and Omnipod insulin pump (powered by a little dancing man).

Comments

I love this!! Made my Monday! I can also relate to Robert in that I was diagnosed in 2011 at age 28 with T1D and have just started to wear the Omnipod. 12 days so far and going well! Thanks you :)

This is fantastic! What a creative way to describe managing Type 1. If only we could actually use it on a resume. Thanks for sharing.

I love it! Although, not only would I never put it on my resume I wouldn't draw attention to it at all because I fear all the negative connotations that come with it - oh, how often will you be out sick? how much more will it cost us to insure you?

Interesting... I can also relate to Robert in that being a diabetic in NYC is not the same as being a diabetic anywhere else. Sometimes I think that I am moving so fast I forget about diabetes.

I was diagnosed at 21 in 2000. It's harder to explain to people that you developed T1D as an adult because many people think it's a childhood illness.

I do all those things and then some every day so I guess I have 4 jobs. Mother, diabetic, restaurant server/manager, receptionist.

So I understand leaving this off of resumes, but what about in an interview context? I was diagnosed with Type 1 just over a year ago at 19, so the intense challenges that come with the diagnosis are fresh in my mind. This is also a point in my college career where I'm going through interviews for internships and the like. When the question comes up about "Tell me about a time when you were faced with a challenge, and how you overcame it" or along those lines, I would be able to tell a fantastic story about the initial devastation, being unbelievably overwhelmed, my subsequent dedication to educating myself as much as possible, and my perseverance in getting a handle on managing things. Is the whole diabetes subject completely off-limits throughout the entire process, or will this make me a more memorable candidate and actually strengthen my personal brand? I've heard mixed feedback from recruiters and career counselors on this - I'd love to hear the DOC's input as well!

Hi Rachel - This is just one person's opinion, but I would never mention my T1D if I were interviewing for a paying job (i.e. you're on the payroll, getting health benefits, PTO, etc.). For me, having diabetes is a personal question just like whether or not I am married or have children. You never know who will immediately disqualify you if you tell them about your diabetes (even though doing so is illegal).

On the other hand, if you are interviewing for an internship (i.e. unpaid) and it seems appropriate, I think mentioning it makes sense. I interviewed for an internship with the ADA in college, so it was a natural part of the conversation. Good luck.

@rachel -your attitude is fantastic. I was dx at age 7 so this actually came up in my first interview to babysit the Radebaugh kids up the street.
I think you would give a very memorable and persuasive story, but in my opinion, I would say don't go there. The reason is that you have no way of knowing the biases or level of knowledge of the person you're talking to. The longer you have it, the more stories you hear from people about -the relative who has it and never takes care of himself, or family friend who's leg was amputated. You want the interview to be about hiring you, not turned into a diabetes teachable moment, those are my thoughts on it, I'm interested to see what others say about it

@rachel -your attitude is fantastic. I was dx at age 7 so this actually came up in my first interview to babysit the Radebaugh kids up the street.
I think you would give a very memorable and persuasive story, but in my opinion, I would say don't go there. The reason is that you have no way of knowing the biases or level of knowledge of the person you're talking to. The longer you have it, the more stories you hear from people about -the relative who has it and never takes care of himself, or family friend who's leg was amputated. You want the interview to be about hiring you, not turned into a diabetes teachable moment, those are my thoughts on it, I'm interested to see what others say about it

Great post! It really does say a lot about your character and discipline. People bring up the negative connotation of diabetes and whether or not to bring up in an interview?

@rachel, like most things related to diabetes, I think it depends. I have interviewed for many jobs at the current age of 28 and have probably only disclosed once. I think it can be a sensitive issue and make the interviewer also feel uncomfortable if they don't understand the disease.

Rachel: It depends on the situation. I just started this job three weeks ago. I put everything on the table. I told them I had a newborn (which I think helped because two of the women interviewing me had children under two).
When I walked into my final interview one week before the jdrf walk I saw that the HR manager had walk shirts from past years on all of her chairs! We talked about how important it was for companies to give back. I think it made me a little more comfortable. I didn't talk about my diagnosis (that's a long and sad story) but, I did mention that I have T1D and that I walk every year.
I also wear a pump and sometimes people ask. I remember starting my last restaurant management job and I was asked if I could hide my pager LOL! In that instance if I would have discussed my diabetes earlier in the process that situation would have been less embarrassing for the person who made that request.
Having diabetes doesn't mean that you take off more it is an advantage if anything. it makes us more aware of time and scheduling. Use it to your advantage. So my advise would be not to walk in and say "Hey, I am a diabetic" but if it fits in the situation go ahead.

One more thing, if the interviewer says personal challenge then you can use diabetes but the question you described should really be answered in regards to work and if you've never worked before it should be an academic setting. I was diagnosed at 20 email me if you have questions tanieka@aol.com Good Luck!

I was so amused by this post! I got the Omnipod about 18 months ago and I just got a Dexcom CGM last week. Every time I explain how these devices work, or anything else T1D related for that matter, my friends say I should put these skills on my resume. For all the great reasons listed in previous comments I wouldn't actually do it, but I'm happy to keep the joke going with my friends. Thanks for the creativity, Robert!

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