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My journey to industry, living with narcolepsy.

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My journey to get to where I am today has not been a straightforward one. At the age of 13, five years after I began to randomly and uncontrollably fall asleep during the day, I was diagnosed with the sleep disorder, narcolepsy.

Narcolepsy became a huge obstruction to my life; trying to deal with all the symptoms on top of being prescribed countless medications that were meant to keep me awake, but just kept me numb. My school attendance had dropped to 22%, I stopped doing all my extracurricular clubs and activities, and went from studying 11 GCSE subjects to just 5. I luckily managed to leave my GCSEs with 6 good grades, mainly thanks to the support of my parents and a change in doctor and medication.

My next steps were difficult to navigate as with only 6 GCSEs, I had a limited choice in which A levels I could take. At this time, I was still struggling to cope in school as the traditional schooling system wasn’t equipped to deal with my illness and I didn’t have the time, or more importantly the energy, to gain experience or think more about my long-term plans.

This led me to choose Natural Sciences as my university degree, so that I didn’t have to commit to one subject yet, and specifically chose a programme that included Computer Science, as it had always interested me, but I never really had much exposure or opportunity to learn about it. However, my learning experience was yet again interrupted, this time due to COVID, making it increasingly harder for me to discover what I truly wanted to do in my career.

After a battle with mental health, imposter syndrome, and trying to keep up with my cohort, in the summer of 2022, I graduated with a Computer Science degree. However, because of the pandemic, I didn’t find many opportunities to gain experience and find insight into what I can do with my degree, and with the additional needs of my disability, I’ve been struggling to find my career path. Luckily, I was put in contact with Zoe Wallace, the director of Agent Academy, who talked to me about the Rise programme. It sounded perfect for me and offered me the opportunity to gain experience for my CV, meet with people in the industry, and build up the confidence to back up my skills. It’s been motivating and jampacked so far and all I can say is that I’m grateful that I joined.