How A Chronic Illness Didn't Hold Me Back From Landing My Dream Job

My name is Prisha Bathia and I am 19 years old. I am currently six months into a Level 3 Digital Marketing apprenticeship at Google. I work in the Google Store team and my day to day role typically includes customer related management, for example email marketing and supporting campaigns for EMEA. 

Before my apprenticeship, I had just finished school and completed my A-levels in Biology, Psychology and Economics. My original plan was to study International Management at the University of Warwick. However, throughout the university application process, I realised university wasn’t for me. When I went to visit open days for universities where I planned to study Economics, I didn't feel as excited. In general, apprenticeships don't get as much exposure so I didn't receive a great deal of information on them until I did my own research. I received A*A*A in my A-levels and I want to be able to show that you can love being academic but also enjoy working, which is what I love about the apprenticeship the most. I think apprenticeships are a great way of combining the academic and working worlds.

Prisha at Google

I knew digital marketing was something I wanted to pursue from enjoying work experience at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) under the digital marketing team as well as filming content on my own YouTube channel.

My videos revolve around raising awareness for my condition which is called Sturge Weber Syndrome. It is a neurological condition that affects my eyes, brain and my face. I have a vascular birthmark on the left side of my face (also known as a port wine stain). This is caused by my blood vessels in my brain being a lot larger. It's also why I have an eye condition called glaucoma, which means I have limited vision in my left eye due to high pressure and retina detachment. My condition is considered as an invisible chronic illness because it won’t be cured and it isn’t visible to others. 

I’ve had this condition since birth, and was treated at GOSH for 16 years. I had three major operations and radiotherapy to help save my eyesight. Growing up and living with this condition is normal to me because I live with it every day. I wasn't the most confident person, I struggled with my visible difference as I didn't see many people in the media talking about it. I wanted to change that and I wanted to help others feel more confident and to embrace their visible differences.

Prisha with Google figurines

In the Summer of 2018, GOSH offered me work experience in the digital marketing team to get hands on experience of what it's like to work in digital marketing due to missing out on opportunities like this whilst at school and because I was a volunteer at the hospital. I loved it and it confirmed that this was the career I wanted to go into. I also wrote an EPQ ( Extended Project Qualification) on digital marketing which revolved around me extensively researching a variety of campaigns and businesses, and analysing trends and data. This really aided me in deepening my understanding of digital marketing. 

Part of my channel also includes filming videos on education and being an advocate for apprenticeships. I share my advice on school, revision and now apprenticeships. I hope by sharing my journey I can help change the perceptions of them, and show you can be successful without having a degree. 


How does Sturge Weber Syndrome affect my work  life?

Google has always been my dream job! I remember being at school learning about Google and I said to my friends and teachers how I would love to work there when I am older. I can't believe I am working here at 19!

I never thought I would get the job because I was always worried that I wasn't good enough or smart enough to work here. I was worried because of my condition, I wouldn't get it. Growing up I was always anxious about my career and if my hospital life would get in the way. I worried that missing school would stop me getting opportunities and negatively impact my future career but I am so thankful that this isn't the case. I've always found it hard to believe in myself and so getting this job has meant so much. In a way my condition created my passion for filming and posting on social media which led me to my career in digital marketing!

One of the reasons why I was so scared to start working was because  my condition is invisible so I was afraid that people wouldn’t see the impact it was having on me. To begin with it was difficult, this was because it was a lot different to school. I was afraid to speak up about my condition as I thought I was going to be judged or treated differently however this was not the case. I feel super grateful to be surrounded by such supportive people, especially those who I work with and the other Google apprentices, who I can rely on to speak to if I need to. My team inspires me everyday. As an apprentice who just finished school, I came to Google with very little experience in digital marketing. I love and feel so grateful that I get to learn so much from them. They are all so supportive!

One of the main issues that I face, especially at work, is getting tired. This is because I am only using my right eye which means that I struggle to stay focused during the day. In the first two-three months, I struggled at work because I didn’t speak up about how I was feeling and ever since I reached out to my manager, mentor and my coach, we have been able to make changes to my day to day routine. For example, we ensured that I would take regular breaks, work from home, and have flexibility on leaving the office earlier. During the day, I would also ensure that I’d have time away from the computer.

I came into Google as a shy girl who was overwhelmed and was always worried that I wasn't meant to be there. It felt so unreal. I wasn't confident enough to speak in meetings or take a strong role in projects. To think after a few months I feel more confident, and able to speak in meetings without always freaking out is something I am extremely proud of. I was able to feel more confident by networking and speaking to new people, especially as a lot of them felt the same when they started. It was reassuring to know I wasn't the only one feeling this way.

If there is anything that I want you to take from this message is that it's ok to struggle. Regardless of where you are at - either starting this apprenticeship straight from school or starting it after a completely different role,  it's okay to find situations hard. Everyone has obstacles and by opening up you'll be able to find ways to make whatever you’re going through more manageable.

This apprenticeship has shown me that I should take every opportunity and my battle with my condition won't hold me back. So far I've been loving every second of  my apprenticeship and I can't wait to see where this takes me...

Prisha at work

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