In the United States, more than 56 million people report having a disability, and many of them go to work every day just like the rest of the population. But many others still struggle with finding the right pathway–they can get discouraged and never try finding work again. Here at Goodwill, we don’t want that for anyone!
Several years ago, Goodwill adopted the tag line, “Believe in the Power of Work.” This phrase represents the simple truth that at Goodwill we believe that work can change lives, generate self-esteem, build skills, competencies and social networks, give meaning to life and provide hope for a better tomorrow.
Here are some suggestions for young people with disabilities who want to explore their own career paths:
- Focus on what they enjoy and what their interests are. We’re all motivated to excel at work when we are doing things that interest us, things that we enjoy. It holds true for everybody–we are more likely to succeed if we’re working on something or somewhere that we really enjoy.
- Build on their strengths. After they’ve thought about what they like, encourage them to think about their strengths, or assets, that would be valuable to a business. Often, the problem-solving skills, ingenuity and tenacity to overcome challenges that people with a disability may successfully demonstrate as they simply navigate each day are the very skills businesses are looking for in today’s worker. We all have strengths; help her identify theirs.
- Think about what’s next. Encourage them to think about building a career, not just starting a job. People today change jobs more frequently than ever. Talk about what might be the next thing after the first job, and what they could be doing to build the skills or competencies to make that next move.
For specific resources in your community, I invite you to contact your local Goodwill and look into publicly available resources. Become familiar with vocational rehabilitation and your area’s one-stop career center.