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Getting a Job

Businessman in a wheelchair smiling, colleagues in background businessman smiling young man with Down Syndrome, working at a desk with a cup of coffee next to his keyboard

There’s nothing like the feeling of getting that first paid job. Some youth with disabilities may feel like paid employment is out of their reach, but it does not have to be. Families and youth can work towards that first job by focusing on building skills employers want, developing good work habits, discussing the impact of disability if necessary, and showcasing talents and a positive attitude during the interview process.

To successfully transition to adulthood, all youth should be exposed to a range of work-based exploration experiences such as site visits, community service, job shadowing, and paid and unpaid internships. Unfortunately, it is estimated that only one-third of young people with disabilities who need job training receive it.

To adequately prepare youth for real-world employment, career and technical education should be based on state or industry standards, and youth should be taught using varied learning strategies that are appropriate to each individual.

In order to help youth make informed choices, youth should undergo a career assessment that includes, but is not limited to, interest inventories, and formal and informal vocational assessments. They should also be exposed to job training and career opportunities that provide a living wage.

Parents also play an important role in providing invaluable career guidance and support to young adults with and without disabilities. Parents help teenagers prepare for adult work by providing positive adult models to follow; exposure to careers and occupations; clear expectations -- neither too high nor too low; contacts and networks in the community; and values and attitudes such as discipline, concentration, and a willingness to take on challenges.

Finding a job may seem like a daunting task for someone with a disability. People with disabilities are often uncertain as to what kinds of jobs are available to them and whether they are qualified to do those jobs. In fact, it is common for persons with disabilities to underestimate their own skills and abilities when looking for a job. While it is natural to have fears about entering the workforce, remember this: no matter what your disability, there is a job out there for you. It may take more time and effort to find that job, but it can be done!

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