Pre-Employment Program

Two students dressed professionally and smiling

“My son came out of the Pre-Employment Program really fired up. Now, he has a great foundation to jump into the working world.” –parent of a 2016 PEP graduate

The Pre-Employment Program (PEP) is an intensive 10-week Saturday workshop that equips young adults with the skills necessary for workplace success.

Critical skills at a critical age

  • Rigorous preparation for young adults ages 15 to 22 who are blind or visually impaired
  • Real-life perspective from successful leading corporations such as Tufts Health Plan, Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, WinterWyman, Wells Fargo and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
  • Designed in collaboration with Dr. Karen Wolffe, a renowned international expert on career counseling for people who are blind or visually impaired, and led by Perkins educators Kate Katulak and Jessica Erlich
  • Applicable to internships, summer employment, college work-study jobs and careers

Contact Pat Ryan at 617-972-7812 or Patrick.Ryan@Perkins.org to learn more.

Beyond academics

Young adults who are learning with blindness need more than academics for a successful future. Specific instruction on how to conduct a job interview, what to wear to work and how to disclose a disability to a potential employer is necessary for people whose blindness prevents incidental learning. Learn how the PEP addresses these critical skills and prepare for workplace success.

When enrolled in the PEP, your young adult will be exposed to:

  • Young adults who are blind and employed
  • Hiring professionals and disability experts from leading corporations
  • Online job search skills
  • Hands-on learning
  • Resume writing
  • Mock interviews

Frequently Asked Questions

My teenager is so busy with school and homework. Why should I worry about employment preparation now?

Early work experiences are a key predictor of future employment success. The sooner young adults with blindness or visual impairment gain workplace experience, the better prepared they will be to compete for jobs with sighted peers. Many young adults work entry-level jobs in the summer or on weekends. If your teenager delays that experience, he or she is missing out on critical experience employers will look for after high school or college.

If workplace experience is so important, wouldn’t my teen’s time be better spent looking for a job?

Young adults with blindness and visual impairment need more preparation and hands-on experience than their sighted peers, because they miss out on the incidental learning that occurs naturally for people with sight. The PEP provides insight on resume writingsocial etiquette in the workplace, transportation strategies and much more – critical skills and knowledge that will benefit any young adult, sighted or blind. Just as importantly, the PEP also teaches young adults how to keep that job once they land it.

How much of a time commitment is the PEP?

The PEP is a 10-week Saturday workshop, held every other weekend on Perkins’ campus. During off weekends, students are required to complete homework assignments and continue learning independently.

Will the PEP teach my young adult how to use accessible technology in the workplace?

Absolutely. Accessible technology is a critical tool in almost any work environment for people with blindness or low vision, and enables those individuals to perform almost any job a sighted person can do. We’ll discuss which tools – screen readers, braille notetakers, magnifiers, etc. – work best, and also cover accessible technology that’s built into mainstream devices like smartphones and tablets. We’ll also coach your young adult on advocating for him or herself in the workplace and having the confidence to ask for those tools to get the job done. Finally, PEP students interact during class and off weekends through Yammer, an online platform for sharing and learning.

How will I know the PEP has really prepared my student for the working world? 

Our students exit the program with an action plan. That plan includes follow-up activities spelled out, such as leads to pursue and network connections to make. They’ll have a career portfolio that includes a personal data sheet, sample resume and cover letter, references and letters of recommendation in hardcopy and on a USB drive. They’ll have practiced when and how to disclose their visual impairment to a potential employer, and they’ll have networked with real-world hiring managers and human resources professionals. And finally, they’ll have a network of peers and mentors they can call upon as they navigate the working world independently. The PEP will give your young adult the skills to compete and the confidence to pursue success. 


Testimonials

A headshot of a male student

“It can really help students with a visual impairment on employment.” – Jordan, PEP alum

A headshot of a female student

“It actually inspired me to find an internship.” – Danielle, PEP alum