I'm blind and didn't tell anyone when I interviewed for my tech job. I got hired and my boss had no idea.

I'm blind and didn't tell anyone when I interviewed for my tech job. I got hired and my boss had no idea.
Courtesy of Sameer Doshi
  • Sameer Doshi grew up with low vision and became blind as an adult.
  • His blindness didn't keep him from a successful tech career.

When I was a child, I remember wearing really thick glasses to help me see. My vision was always impaired by high myopia, but it didn't keep me from having a happy childhood, being voted president of the student council in high school, attending college in Boston to major in biomedical engineering, or getting a job in New York doing tech for a financial-services firm. My vision, though weak, never slowed me down.

But at 25, I had a retinal tear in my right eye. While doctors tried to save it through several surgeries, my right eye became unusable.

I'm a positive sort of guy and just decided to keep moving forward. My wife and I moved to Illinois, bought a house, and got a dog. At the time, I was working as a vice president for Citi Group.

A cataract developed in my left eye during my wife's pregnancy and we planned to operate once our baby was born. Although surgery to remove the cataract went well, I had a bad response to the steroid treatment used following the surgery, and subsequently lost all sight in my left eye.

When I got in touch with the disability coordinator for my company, I was offered sessions with a low-vision specialist who helped me navigate how to get around as a newly blind person. It was such a lifesaver for me.


I interviewed for a tech job without sharing that I was blind

A colleague of mine left his job to start working at Microsoft and said there was a digital-transformation position at Microsoft that would be right up my alley. I decided I had to give it a shot and completed the online application, which didn't specifically ask about blindness.

When my in-person interview date came through, self-doubt ramped up within me. How would I work at one of the biggest software companies in the world? And not only that, how was I going to work there as a blind person? They demanded the best employees, and I was anxious about whether I could deliver what they wanted.

Instead of worrying, I set my mind to prepare for the interview. I spent one month preparing a technical PowerPoint presentation and memorizing the placement of each word and diagram on each slide. I asked friends, colleagues, and family members to let me deliver the presentation to them for practice. In the shower, I talked myself through each slide.

On the morning of the interview, I showed up two hours early with my cane in hand and asked the receptionist to show me to the room I would be in. For the next two hours, I created a space I felt comfortable presenting in. I moved chairs into position, practiced standing and walking to the screen for my presentation, connected my computer to make sure everything was working correctly, and cleaned up anything on the floor so I wouldn't trip.

Although I didn't intend to hide my blindness, I was resolved to make the interview about my skill, not my lack of vision. My practice paid off and the interviews went smoothly. There were three rounds of interviews, and I felt confident at the end of each one. Not once did I mention I was blind. Not once was I asked.


I got the job

I was offered the job and told I would be starting in October 2018. When I went to employee orientation, my boss, one of the people who had interviewed me, called to tell me to look out for another person on his team who would be training with me. He said he was six feet tall, had salt-and-pepper hair, and drove a blue truck. It was the first time I realized my boss had no idea I was blind. Even though I hadn't disclosed I was blind at the interview, I had been certain it was obvious, but apparently not.

"I'm blind," I responded bluntly on the phone. I felt awkward putting him in a position that could make him feel bad, but I had to tell him. "Wow," he said. "That's OK. It's not a big deal. I'll have the guy look for you instead."

And ever since then, my boss has been nothing but supportive — of my career, my growth, and my learning. When I started working, I realized there were a ton of people who were blind at the company. Even when I had to fill out all the official paperwork to apply for special magnifying software, I was never made to feel inferior. I could do the job well, and that is why I was hired.

My disability hasn't impacted my career path. I'm empirical evidence proving all that matters is that the job can get done. Even with my blindness, the job has gotten done. There have been challenges along the way, but I've not let them trip me up, and I'm still working and progressing at Microsoft four years later.