One of the steps of transitioning to adulthood is finding employment. For those just out of high school, it can be a frustrating experience, especially if they haven’t held a typical job with a W-2 and a paycheck. There are ways, however, to appeal to potential employers. Previous seasonal work experience, entrepreneurial jobs (such as babysitting and yard work), as well as volunteer work, are all ways to build a resume. Add a few skills learned in high school, such as typing, writing for the school paper, woodworking or welding, and most students will find they’re qualified for many entry-level jobs.
One of the problems with finding employment for a disabled young adult is that they often have no experience. One of the ways to remedy this is to do volunteer work at various organizations. The sooner a student can make time for volunteer activities during their high school years, the better. Volunteerism is helpful for fleshing out a resume, and it is also important for those who are interested in attending college at some point during their adult lives.
During the high school years, young adults can get assistance finding volunteer opportunities from their guidance counselor. Those who have graduated may find volunteer opportunities by visiting places that they are interested in, such as a zoo, historical center or humane society in their area. These organizations have volunteer coordinators that can discuss opportunities available, such as part-time and seasonal openings. One of the benefits of volunteering is that when a paid job becomes available, an interested volunteer may easily step into that position because of their on-the-job experience.
Almost any job should be included on a resume, including babysitting, lawn mowing or other entrepreneurial experiences. While these are certainly entry level type jobs, they show motivation, responsibility, an ability to manage finances and that a person is goal oriented. Skills, such as typing and computer skills (i.e. Excel, Word, knowing HTML or XML), should definitely be included on a resume. Many employers are looking for employees who are computer literate, and the more skills they have, the better. Take advantage of any computer-based classes as possible, whether in school or for free in your community.
Internships are also an excellent way to add experience to a resume. Some internships are available while students are in high school, while others are available only to college students. A guidance office at the local high school or the career placement office at college are both places to learn about available internships.
While in high school, students should take advantage of any interviewing assistance available. It is usually made available through the guidance counselor’s office and may be touched on through business classes in some schools. Those who are taking advantage of vocational training usually are helped with interviewing, as well as resume preparation, as part of their coursework and on-the-job training experiences.
Other places to find information, such as typical interview questions, is the Internet as well as local offices of the Small Business Administration, and interviewing skills workshops offered through community colleges and public libraries. Other organizations that may be of help include the following:
- Arc of the United States
- The National Organization on Disability
- PASS Plan for Social Security Recipients
Disclosing a Disability
For some, disclosing a disability is something they don’t want to do. They may not wish to be treated differently, or they have an invisible disability that they feel won’t affect their job. However, if special accommodations are needed, it is important to disclose the disability during the interview. If a disability is not disclosed, and an individual cannot perform their job duties, they may lose their job even if they suddenly reveal the disability to avoid being fired.
Considerations for those Receiving Benefits
It is important for young adults who are receiving government benefits to understand how work will affect those benefits. Some benefits are contingent upon an individual having a specific income level, such as Social Security Disability Income. Once an individual exceeds a specified income level, benefits may be reduced or stopped, depending upon the program.
Before seeking employment, be sure to understand how work may affect benefit income. A reduction in income from some programs may make it difficult to live independently, especially if the person is working part-time or a seasonal job. In some cases, once benefits are cut, it may be difficult to get them started again. Be sure to speak with a representative of the benefit program before seeking employment to ensure an understanding of their policies.