It’s early work experiences that give our teens with visual impairments realistic perspectives of work, shape their positive work habits and work-related skills, and reveal personal strengths as well as shortcomings which can be worked on or worked around. These competencies and aspects of self-awareness become tools in their employment toolboxes, preparing them for the next rung on the career ladder. So, how can we assist our teens in preparing for and obtaining that very first summer job?
The topic is vast; let’s tackle it in two bog posts. Today, let’s focus on how to prepare a teen with a visual impairment for a first job.
Preparing Your Teen for a First Job
Of course, preparing a teen for work begins in early childhood with high expectations, chores, social skill development, and gradual mastery of literacy (likely braille), Orientation and Mobility (O&M), self-determination, independent living skills, and assistive technology skills. [Yes, all components of the Expanded Core Curriculum.]
Yet, now you have a teen, and there are surely employment-specific skills needing to be acquired. It is these we will discuss:
Talk with your child about skills and strengths he has that can benefit workplaces. Is he proficient at communicating with others, typing, lifting heavy objects, note-taking, problem solving, computing mathematics, constructing, teaching younger children, cleaning dishes, feeding animals, coaching, etc.? Together, consider needs in your community that utilize his/ her skill set, even if it means carving, or creating, a job utilizing your teen’s unique skill set.
Teach your child how to confidently and succinctly share his skill set and strengths, also known as giving an elevator speech. When searching for a job, he will benefit from knowing how to sell his strong suits as benefits to a potential workplace.
Facilitate your child’s understanding of the job seeking process. Discuss how one seeks job openings, fills out job applications, and interviews for positions by utilizing APH CareerConnect’s Conducting a Successful Job Search article.
Prompt your child to consider job accommodations that will help him perform possible job functions efficiently. How will your child work around vision loss or any additional disability? Utilize the Job Accommodation Network and peruse CareerConnect Virtual Worksites when brainstorming. Additionally, if your child will require on-the-job training or supported employment, utilize AFB’s directory of employment and job training services to locate a service provider.
Convey general employer expectations with your child. Discuss matters such as personal grooming, arriving on time, keeping a calendar, honesty and integrity, social tact, refraining from gossip, working efficiently, asking for assistance appropriately, etc.
Encourage your child to find a successful, adult mentor who is blind or visually impaired. Read Why Your Teen Needs Career Mentors Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired and Totally Blind Project Manager Talks Mentors to learn how a mentor can provide your teen with inside-information and high expectations.
What would you add? We’d love to hear.
Stay tuned for information on assisting your teen in the job-seeking process.