Working can provide you with independence, confidence, new friends, and money. It is important to feel safe and supported in your job, and find the right job for you and your abilities. The process of getting your first job or volunteer work with little or no experience will take some planning, learning, and patience.
The Basics of Finding a Job:
Decide what types of jobs interest you
What types of skills and experience do you have? What are your interests? What new skills would you like to learn?
Use the Where Are You Going Guide from Washington State
It is full of questions, guidance and self tests to help you identify your interests and skills, and match them with careers, education or training.
Narrow down the specifics for your job hunt
How far are you willing to travel? How will you get to and from your job? What hours are you available to work?
Search outside the box
Look into volunteer opportunities, internships, or start your own small business. Let friends, family members, teachers, and neighbors know you are looking for a job and ask for their help. Use the internet to search out available resources in your area. Visit How to do a Job Search from Kids as Self Advocates.
When filling out applications
Prepare a simple resume even if you think you don’t have experience. List your skills and responsibilities, even if it’s only chores you do at home such as mowing the lawn or babysitting. Highlight how your skills will meet the needs of your prospective employers. Have references available.
Prepare for a job interview
Practice how you might respond to interview questions with friends and family. Find out as much as you can about your prospective employer. Look professional for the interview.
Build your resume
Often employers count volunteer experience as work experience. It can be fun and helps you develop good skills, experience and references.
Find job opportunities
Volunteering can help show people what you can do and that you can do it well. If you impress them, you may be the first to hear of a job opening. You have a higher chance of getting it because people already know you.
Learn more about your interests
Find an organization that interests you. Internships and volunteering allow you to learn what you like and don’t like in a job. It can help you narrow down the right fit for you.
Resource: Kids as Self Advocates
National Resources for Teens with Special Needs:
- NCWYD/Youth: National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth site includes activities and links to help young people with disabilities find and keep a job.
- Kids As Self Advocates Work Resources: stories told by youth and young adults with disabilities and links to tips and information.
- Job Accommodation Network: provides information about work accommodation solutions.
- Ticket-to-Work (TTW): provides employment support services for people with disabilities between the ages of 18-64 who want to work.
Washington State-Specific Resources for Teens with Special Needs:
- Washington State Resources for Parents of Children and Youth with Disabilities: Resources to help parents as their children prepare for college and careers.
- Division of Vocational Rehabilitation: Individualized employment services and counseling for people with disabilities in Washington.
- People Working: Read stories and watch videos of young people with disabilities who work in the Northwest from the Washington Initiative for Supportive Employment’s Wikispace.