“I feel good,” says Paul B., about the prospect of his recent hard work paying off… with work, in the form of a job in the community. Paul has been working with Career Development Specialist Justin Theriault, assessing his skills and talents, exploring prospective employers, writing a résumé, and practicing interviews, all for when the big day arrives. Paul originally had his own home-improvement business, which he built up over 18 years. However, because of his progressing visual impairment, he needed to give it up. The eventual transition to an office will add to the challenges he faces. He remains hopeful. “It could be interesting,” he says.
Facing the Challenge
Justin and Paul have been meeting over brunch at a local Panera Bread restaurant to work on what he needs to do to eventually land job. And disability is not the only challenge Paul faces. “Others – friends and family – said I’m not trying hard enough.” Nevertheless, he continues, “Justin is very understanding of my challenges.” And to prove those people wrong, Paul and Justin have been concentrating on strengths.
Compiling a résumé. The first step was for Paul and Justin to take stock of skills and experience and, with these, compile a résumé, reviewing and revising along the way. They also composed a strong cover letter.
Researching the Job Market. Paul’s loss of vision and consequent poor hand–eye coordination precluded him from working in many food-service or retail settings. So, both have agreed on the need to arrive at “outside-the-box ideas” in approaching prospective employers.
Practice with Interviewing. Justin and Paul read and role-played online interview samples. “The practice helped me,” adds Paul. “I try to set him up to be as successful as possible,” says Justin. “He has been a good coach, very encouraging,” adds Paul. “I cannot wait to get the ball rolling!”
Career-Development is one of the many services we offer. The objective is to offer realistic options for people with disabilities in New Jersey to gain dignity and independence by participating in the workforce and the general community. Career-Development Specialists help men and women create goals and achieve them through the preplacement and intensive coaching described in this article. The next steps are supported employment and, once the individual has attained independence, long-term follow along. Two other success stories are Tarah C. and Scott R.