Find out how a Be. Lab tertiary internship with global professional services organisation EY gave Stefano Stollenwerk-Cavallaro the opportunity to launch their career and thrive in a flexible work culture which values diverse talent.
With a love of both the indoors and outdoors, Stefano is equally happy reading and playing video games at home, or camping and tramping in the bush.
Stefano considered studying physics following high school but landed on computer science with a double major in maths. A bright and curious mind, Stefano excelled in their studies, achieving top grades and ultimately honours.
During their final year of study, an exciting job opportunity came up which involved a week-long training simulation. Although Stefano was extremely engaged with the task at hand, they felt misunderstood, and Stefano believes this lack of understanding led to them missing out on the job.
Stefano is neurodiverse and has a unique way of seeing the world. “I am designed in a way that society doesn’t always understand”, says Stefano who is an active voice in autism awareness. Writing about their experience for Autism Awareness Month, Stefano explains “autism is a difference, not a deficit”.
Shortly after missing out on the job, Stefano discovered Be. Lab’s tertiary internship programme. Be. Lab works with motivated access citizens to match them with paid 12-week internships. These internships provide tertiary students or graduates with valuable work experience in their field of study or aspiration, and an opportunity to launch their careers.
Central to the unique programme is providing bespoke wrap-around support, to ensure candidates are workplace ready. Stefano took part in a Capability Group ‘Pep Talk Programme’, a two-day professional and personal development course designed to prepare young people as they transition from full-time study to employment.
Stefano was also paired with a mentor to provide valuable one-on-one support. “Stefano is very gifted”, says Sarah Mitchell, Stefano’s mentor and Be. Lab Relationship Manager.
“Stefano has a unique ability to think outside the box and to see problems in a different and creative way”.
Sarah explains that according to industry research, it is qualities like these that leading 21st century workplaces are looking for.
It wasn’t long before Stefano secured an internship at global professional services organisations, EY. EY were so impressed by Stefano’s unique strengths that they offered them a permanent position as a consultant when they completed their degree.
A global leader in diversity and inclusion, Stefano enjoys working for EY, and in particular, has appreciated how flexible the culture is. Stefano is sensitive to light and noise, so with Be. Lab and EY's support, they negotiated creating a working environment that better suits their needs. EY were happy for Stefano to work non-regular hours from home (even before COVID hit). Stefano describes this flexible and supportive work environment in a LinkedIn article for EY’s #Flextober.
In the article, Stefano discusses how COVID-19 has shown other workplaces what EY understood pre-pandemic- that we can work productively from home. Stefano expresses the hope that like EY, other employers will "continue to support everyone, especially disabled people, in working in a way that best suits them and their needs" in the post-pandemic environment.
Since getting their job, Stefano has moved out of home for the first time. Thanks to Be. Lab’s support in connecting with an awesome employer, they are now living a life they love. And as a result, Sarah, who is still mentoring Stefano two years later, has witnessed Stefano’s confidence grow in leaps and bounds. “Stefano has a newfound independence”, she says. “They are on an exciting career path in a very successful organisation. Their future is bright!”.
“I am grateful to Be. Lab for where I am today. I would recommend them to any disabled people who need support in finding a good job”.
Be. Lab matches talented and motivated individuals with access needs or health conditions to meaningful paid work experience opportunities with leading employers across New Zealand.