DYSLEXIC STORIES FROM THE WORK PLACE THROUGHOUT DYSLEXIA AWARENESS WEEK
In Monday’s post I explained that an email from a listener called Rob was what got me thinking about doing this series of blog posts. In that initial email, Rob drew my attention to a video created by Dyslexic Advantage, which dealt with the subject of Dyslexia in the workplace. The video had a panel of guess who all answered questions on how Dyslexia had effected them. One of the panelists that I thought it might be interesting to hear from was Google employee Hena Haines. I’d often heard that companies like Google, Facebook and Apple are places where right brained thinkers are embraced. So I tracked Hena down to get the lowdown on exactly what it’s like to be a Dyslexic employee working in the tech sector.
Growing up with dyslexia, I knew that I did things differently than my peers at school – I was unable to sound out words like my sister or read an entire book in one sitting like my friends. Despite those “shortcomings”, I taught myself how to navigate through school. It wasn’t always easy, but I knew I had the support of teachers and family if my struggles ever felt overwhelming. The most important thing for me in overcoming and living with my dyslexia was a supportive and open network of people around me. When it came time to move on from a school setting to the workplace, I knew I needed to find an environment where I felt supported even though I did things differently than most people. For me, this place was Google. I spent two summers interning at Google, and during that time I developed a group of mentors and friends whom I felt comfortable working with and going to for advice.
After a year at Google, I have learned that work is much different than school and that some of the work I’m expected to do is not easy for a dyslexic. Even though the days of test taking or never ending reading assignments are behind me, I still encounter challenges like writing a social post or editing a blog post for work. Not only has Google given me the tools I need to do my job, but it has also provided a work environment where everyone has been very understanding of my challenges and has always tried to help me find a place within Google that would highlight my strengths while supporting me as I continue to learn. Not only is Google very innovative with respect to the products it produces, but it is also very open minded and supportive of differing ways workers might think or accomplish their jobs. Being at ease knowing that Google accepts and even encourages people who think in different ways, I do not obsess as much about my weaknesses like I did at school. As a result I feel comfortable expressing myself in meetings and in written communications. A year back I would never feel comfortable writing a blog post about my dyslexia, but I have learned not to be afraid writing. This in turn has made me a better writer and communicator.
Words by Hena Haines
Hena is currently an Associate Product Marketing Manager at Google working on the Google Maps for Work team. Previously, Hena was working on Google Search and Google Wallet. Hena received a degree from Harvard in Economics in 2013, graduating Magna cum laude with high honors as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Here is the video that Rob sent me in his original email.
Skip to 01:10, 19.10 and 50.25 for Hena’s bits: