Job/Internship Applications - Do you say you have a disability?

So I am preparing for the big scary “real world” after graduation and I’m finding myself filling out a lot of applications right now. On all of them there is that classic “optional” question, “Do you have a disability?” and on most of the applications I’ve seen here in California they list some example disabilities and diabetes is among them, so I mark yes. Plus I’m assuming they get some sort of benefit for having a higher number of “disabled” people, so it might work in my favor or something.

But on an application I’m working on now, it’s from out-of-state, and the question is phrased, “I have a significant life-altering disability: [YES]/[NO]”

I mean, diabetes has definitely altered my life. But a “significant life-altering disability” sounds pretty heavy and I’m finding myself much more conflicted on marking yes than when I get the little list of examples and my condition is among them. I don’t really think of myself as “disabled” but I usually mark yes for the potential advantage :sweat_smile:

So, how do/would you guys answer these questions on applications?

(As a side note, this isn’t really a “Type 1” specific thing but it also didn’t really fit into any other category here)


I have never mentioned it. I don’t really think it is a disability. And I would not want to be hired because of it, either. I would never take that.

That’s just my perspective. Do what feels right for you.

I would never tell you that you are right or wrong on it. It’s definitely a personal choice. But I just gave my thoughts on it because you asked. :grinning:


Well, to be fair, right now I am currently mostly being approached by internship programs through the JDRF College Program which… you do have to be diabetic to participate in. So I am clearly okay with this part of the idea, and they already do know about it, kinda.

Thank you for your input! I see where you’re coming from also


I’ve only filled out a handful of applications since being diagnosed, but I’ve never mentioned it. I’ve also never asked for any kind of accommodations. I just was pretty open with it once I was in the door— crashing and bleeding and whatnot. Probably ruined diabetics’ good name everywhere. :grin:

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer. I think you do what feels right.


Well, that’s completely different… but I still wonder if you have to put it on an application??

So one specific situation right now is I’ve been approached by someone interested in me for an internship position in their lab (and they’ve approached me because of the JDRF College Program). To work at this lab I also have to apply for a second program through their institution, so I would theoretically be part of both the JDRF College Program and this other institution’s program this summer. And this application where I’m deeply pondering my disabled status is for that second program


Well, to be completely 100% honest, if I were to apply for a summer job as a counselor at a diabetic camp, I would mention it.

Other than that, probably not.


Diabetes is not a disability. It’s more of an inconvenient annoyance.

Diabetes can cause complications that would definitely be considered a disability.


Totally agree.

On the other hand, it sounds like you have a very solid education. It does not sound like you are going to be finding some disability loophole to get a position you are not qualified for. I have no doubt you will excel based on your merits.

But if you don’t get in the door then they can’t find out about your actual skills and education and everything else you bring to the job.

I would suggest to treat this the way I treat any application I have submitted.

The purpose of the application is to get an interview.

On an application, I say whatever I need to say and will check whatever box I can check that I think will increase my chances of getting the interview even a little bit. The purpose is to sell myself and make my application stand out in a big stack that nobody wants to read. It is about marketing and selling. Yourself. As long as you are aware of the line between selling and bullsh1t and don’t cross that line then do whatever it takes.


No way would I consider myself disabled because of diabetes, but I would also never make any secret of it.

If some company is so backwards that they would hold it against you, well, I wouldn’t want to work for them anyway.

Life’s too short to worry about someone else’s problem.


I’d be conflicted bc I’d worry about it being used against me somehow down the road in a non-provable discrimination way. (concerns about if I’d drive up the Company’s health insurance premiums, etc)

But, at the same time, there is more than one way to tell the truth. For those of us who live it and live well with it, it doesn’t feel like we are disabled. But from their perspective of someone outside of us asking if we have any challenges we routinely have to manage, then absolutely!

I might know someone who has a National Parks Access Pass due to Type 1 Diabetes. That person felt very weird claiming a disability but also very vindicated when after answering additional supplemental questions, it was approved. They apparently decided it sounded like enough of a pain in the neck diagnosis that the pass should be granted.


What would stop you? What do you perceive as the downside to checking it on an application?

Maybe my thinking is that I would never put down on paper something that could be accomplished in an exchange of words, but if there is no downside… I’d write away…

Sorry, I just got hung up for a second there where I sounded hesitant to put something down in writing. :rofl::rofl: Okay, I’m excusing myself from the rest of this. :woman_facepalming:


And if they’re asking if you’re disabled, it sounds like more of a Diversity Hire type question than a “should we discriminate against you” question…bc if they really wanted to successfully discriminate, they wouldn’t ask to begin with. IMHO.

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To add my 2 cents worth, I never mention it or check yes on applications, if I get an interview I tell them at that point and that I don’t consider diabetes a disability but a desease that I can control. Just saying


Absolutely not. You do not have a disability. You have a private health issue that requires management, which is none of an employers business.


I do, this may be a bit controversial, but a lot of times I’ve applied to jobs and it says “Do you have a disability?” and it has a list and diabetes is almost always on it . So I pick yes. I’m not sure it’s impacted me on the job hunt at all despite that? :confused:

Past that point I save it for orientation at the job and I tell the person I’m orientating with and anyone who I frequently work with. I work a physical job. At my current job I was fortunate to be trained by an insulin using type 2 that told me where all the goodies were at if I needed a snack and didn’t have one (as we have to lock them up due to a particular resident) .

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It definitely is a diversity hire question, I followed all the links in this example and it’s in reference to applying for grants for extra funding because of underrepresented groups in science


It does sound heavy, like you said. But I personally believe if I step back and look at what all we manually manage everyday which should be managed by our body automatically, with imperfect tools and processes, it’s pretty amazing. Significant. Life-altering.

Are there worse, harder things? Of course. But it’s okay to be proud of what we manage without minimizing the gravity of it.

The question isn’t asking how you feel about your diagnosis. You can showcase your mad skills at life and diabetes and science in the interview which you’ll surely get bc you’re clearly awesome. The question is likely getting at demographics for funding purposes…which probably matters a lot regarding STEM fields these days.


I honestly wouldn’t put it down most of the time. On certain kinds of applications it might help but my suspicion is that it works against people most of the time – kind of like admitting you have kids as a woman. Once you’re hired if you disclose that you have a disability they do have to accommodate it but it’s too easy to say they declined to hire you/choose you for myriad other reasons for companies to be called on their discrimination in this respect. Why take someone they suspect will require an ounce more effort or accommodation on their part??


I am often part of the hiring team when we are looking for new team members.

We as a team make the hiring decision. HR is not asked their opinion because - well - we don’t care.

We do not see the application. What we do see is a resume. This is has been the same across many companies that I have worked for.

What are looking for is a personality that will not clash with the team. We verify the resume by asking technical questions based on the resume. We are not interested in anybody’s personal life. At all. It simply is not relevant to the hiring process. Anything anybody may or may not have provided as info to HR is not forwarded to us as the hiring team.

Once somebody is hired and working with us then we chat with them as you would anybody and if somebody wants to discuss their personal life than they do. Most people tend to share personal aspects with their team members.