Career Exploration from a Student's Perspective

Omar is a 20-year-old student at Perkins School for the Blind who is totally blind.  We recently interviewed him about his experience with career exploration.

Tell us about which jobs you have had so far.

I worked at the Perkins Trust making donor thank you calls, using a script of what I would say.   After that I worked at the Alzheimer’s Association making donor thank you calls and doing office jobs, like stapling and collating.  I worked at NAPVI (National Association of Parents of the Visually Impaired) and helped with their mailings by doing stapling, collating and folding.  I worked at Cradles to Crayons packaging things for 10-12 year olds.  I play the piano in the lobby at Newton Wellesley Hospital and I also work in the Central Supply Department de-linting towels with a sticky roller.  I worked at Watertown Savings Bank operating their coin sorting machine. I liked working with money.  I work at Perk Café serving customers and letting them know what the cost is.  I worked at the Early Learning Center, but I didn’t like that as much because sometimes there were young kids who made a lot of noise.  I work for Perkins Training Center doing office work. http://www.perkinselearning.org/transition/blog/supervising-student-worker-office-job

How do you know which type of work you’ll be interested in doing?

I took an interest inventory online https://www.mynextmove.org/explore/ip and I also took a Career Exploration class.  I learned that I don’t like dirt or animals or working on a farm.  I like a quiet work environment without loud unexpected noises. I like talking on the phone and chatting with people.  I didn’t know about all of the different kinds of jobs and we went to visit a bunch of places, like CVS training center, Hanscom Airforce Base, the Disability Law Center, and Whole Foods.

How do you choose which jobs you will do?

Outside the door of the Alzheimer's Association

I went to the job fair and talked to people about different jobs.  I might like to work at Mass Eye and Ear doing clerical jobs.  I didn’t know about all of the different jobs before the job fair, but I knew about some of them because I had already done them.   Besides the job fair, sometimes Karen (job developer) helps me figure it out.  

What steps do you take to get a job?

I meet with Karen to prepare my resume.  I have to complete the application.  I prepare for my interview with the volunteer coordinator to talk about my schedule and what I’m interested in.

How do you prepare for the jobs?

I don’t know the steps before I start, so I get some help in the beginning.

What more career exploration do you plan to do before you graduate from Perkins?

I would like to keep playing the piano at the hospital and working at the Perkins Training Center.  I want to work at Mass Eye and Ear doing collating and stapling.  Maybe I’ll learn how to use the bill reader app on my iPad. 

What has been the most helpful thing you’ve learned?

I like to find out what to expect at the job, like showing up on time and dressing appropriately.  I didn’t know ahead of time what they expected, like I have to play the piano softly at the hospital.  I am learning to try things at least once, like when I was invited to a social event at one of my jobs.  I learned that there’s a polite way and a rude way to respond to invitations.  I have a problem-solving journal that helps me think about how I can be more independent.  First I think about it, then I ask a peer, then I ask staff.

What advice do you have for other students?

  • Practice as much as possible for the interview.
  • Find our what you’re responsible for at the job.
  • Let people know if you’re not happy in your job.
  • Try everything once!

Collage of career exploration

 

Read more about: Transition

Total Life Learning by Wendy Bridgeo,‎ Beth Caruso,‎ & Mary Zatta

Cover of Total Life Learning

The Total Life Learning curriculum was developed for students ages 3 to 22 who are blind, visually impaired including those students who have additional disabilities or are deafblind. The focus is on the development of life and career goals that enable student to maximize independence, self-determination, employability, and participation in the community.