Job Fairs offer an opportunity for students to learn about various work experiences, while also practicing their job interview skills. At Perkins School for the Blind we hold two different fairs: one for campus jobs and the other for jobs in the community. Students are encouraged to meet the various representatives and to identify jobs that they would be interested in pursuing.
Setting Up the Job Fair
We use a central auditorium with individual tables for each job. Every table has a tactual demonstration of what occurs at the jobs, such as a spray bottle and sponge for a cafeteria jobor braille materials and a braillewriter for braille editing position.
Student Preparation for the Job Fair
Prior to the job fair, students develop résumés in which they identify their job objectives, as well detailing their work experience.
In addition they prepare and practice questions for the various representatives, asking questions such as:
- Will I stand or sit?
- How long will I be expected to work?
- What do I need to know how to do?
Some students may find it helpful to role play ahead of time, so that they will have practice asking, as well as answering questions.
Students stop and talk to any of the representatives in which they have some interest. The representative asks questions such as:
- What are your skills?
- Do you like a quiet work environment?
- Are you interested in this job?
Preparation for Employment Representatives
Employers should be prepared ahead of time too. They should be clear on the objective of the fair to provide exposure to a range of work experiences, as well as offering a learning opportunity for students to practice their skills. For campus jobs it is important to prepare any staff at the school who don't work directly with the students, such as cafeteria, grounds and office personnel. We try to be sure that every job option we have is represented and our staff represents the community jobs, if a direct representative is not available.
Attending the Job Fair
Generally a team of people is there to support the students and they attend together. This might include a Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Classroom Teacher or Assistive Technology specialist, depending on the student and the types of jobs they're interested in.
If students are non-verbal they use augmentative communication devices with switches and scripts, braille, sign language or whatever supports enable them to participate as fully as possible.
Students sign up for any job they are interested in and this can be done using braille labels, print or name stamps.
At the end of the job fair, staff makes every effort to offer placements that match a student's expressed interest.