Making Your Career Work For You

Uncommon Lungs: Beyond the Episode

What do you want to be when you grow up? That’s a big question, and the factors that go into the decision look different for everyone. John and Julia discuss how they’ve each cultivated a work-life balance that fits their lifestyle and Human Resources expert Susan gives examples of workplace accommodations and job search tips.

Remember, everyone’s experience with cystic fibrosis (CF) is different. It’s important to work with your care team to navigate your specific needs throughout different stages of your life.

What has your career path looked like?

John: In college, I received a major in Business with a minor in Technology Arts and Media. Coming out of school, I had opportunities to do tech consulting which, for a broke college kid, is a lot of money that they throw your way in terms of salaries! In talking with mentors and people around me that I looked up to, I kind of weighed the pros and cons of full-time travel that often comes with consulting. I realized that with my CF and where I was at in life that maybe wasn’t the best thing for my health or even my personal life. Instead, I chose to work at a small-to-medium-sized tech company that was locally based and didn’t have any travel requirements. That was a big decision, to favor this work-life balance.

Has health insurance ever had an impact on your career decisions?

John: I interned at a really small company between my junior and senior year in college. And that was an awesome experience, and one that I would have loved to have gone and done post-college. But, I also had to think about insurance—and good health insurance and coverage is a big benefit of working for a bigger company.

“As an actress and singer, I’m a gig worker. And it’s hard ‘cause I gave up a lot of stable job options for my passion, and the stable job options come with great insurance coverage.”

– Julia, actress, singer, and advocate living with CF
Have you ever felt like CF has been the reason you needed to say no to a job opportunity?

John: In college, I had a part-time job which was an awesome opportunity and a wonderful manager. But I had a little bit of a health scare at the start of my senior year that required me to make some tough decisions. My care team wanted me to maybe take a semester off, which was something I really didn’t want to do. So the approach I took was to take things off my plate. I reduced my course load, while still staying on track to graduate, and unfortunately had to give up that part-time job.

What advice would you give to someone with CF navigating their career?

John: This might be a different take, but I think my advice would be to utilize CF and the challenges it inherently brings. At some level there's a level of unique challenge for anybody that has CF. And I think using those as opportunities to build character, to build resilience, to overcome things both big and small, gives you the confidence that you can tackle things from a career perspective. Like you can go into that job interview with more confidence and know that you're more resilient maybe than the average person because of what you've had to face from a CF perspective.

Expert perspective with Susan, a Human Resources specialist

How can someone with CF go about asking for accommodations at work?

Susan: I think it's so important for people to know what their boundaries and their limitations might be. If you know yourself well, you can bring your best self to work and then ask for the help and the assistance and the guidance that you need. Hopefully at your workplace, you have people who care about you, support you, want to see your best development and your best self come to work. Those might be peers. Those might be managers or leaders. Those might be executives in an organization. Knowing who those people are, building those relationships, and knowing yourself will give you a strong foundation for which to advocate for yourself and to ask for those considerations.

Make sure to listen to the full conversation featuring John, Susan, and Uncommon Lungs podcast host, Julia Rae

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