By Karen McCormack
Getting Started with Job Development
Some schools and organizations may have official job developers or job coaches, while others may not have a specific person assigned solely to this. In any case the process is similar, whether you are developing jobs on a school campus or in the community. Here are some tips to get started:
- Tour sites and identify possible job options
- Break down the jobs into various components, using task analysis.
- Identify skill levels of job site. What prerequisite skills are needed? Can modifications to simplify the job be introduced?
- Job carving: There’s a job for everyone if there’s a willingness for people to try. If the student wants to work, they CAN work.
I. Introduce the Student to the World of Jobs
- Exposure is the most important thing at the beginning.
- Students need to understand the different work experiences and what skills match certain settings.
- Work place tours are a good place to begin with exposure. This is a way to learn about the different departments that a company or business has and may be done by the HR department.
- Job shadowing is helpful once a specific job has been identified, and a specific role has been identified.
- Use an Interest Inventory to help to identify student preferences.
- Find out what may be behind a particular work interest. For example some students may express interest in working at a particular place, such as Target, but it’s really about wearing the red shirt and not necessarily about the job itself.
II. Identify Work Opportunities at Your School
Students most often begin with work experience on the school campus before seeking a job in the community. Any type of work experience is helpful initially, for the student, the teacher, and the potential employer.
- Begin with an environmental assessment of what your school has to offer in terms of jobs:
- office (This may include a wide range of tasks, such as photocopying, stapling, collating, receptionist, answering phone, etc.)
- mail and message delivery
- school cafeteria and food service
- maintenance of facilities
- caring for plants
- vending machines
- school store (This can be special for holidays or baked goods, crafts, etc. or it can be on-going.)
- Identify team members to support the student in the job. (For example, an O & M instructor, speech therapist, OT, or PT might be able to provide support for campus jobs.)
III. Support Students to Build Their Networks
- Encourage students to develop networks in the community
- Reintegration into community and including people outside the school in the network.
IV. Help the Student to Find an Appropriate Mentor
- Find someone who an interest in mentoring people with a disability. Often having a person who is a non-educator as a supervisor can help students to develop strong self-advocacy and self-determination skills.
- Invest in resources where you have a dedicated person who is interested in mentoring the student.
- Raise awareness with paid employees on the school campus that no one is trying to put them out of a job. Encourage them to be mentors and provide the appropriate training and support to make this happen.
V. Match Students to the Appropriate Work Placement
- Each student is an individual, with specific interests & skills, personal goals, and unique needs
- Staff looks at the job listings and figures out where the student might fit, with interests, skills, and career goals.
- Break the job down and identify which components a student can do successfully.
V. Develop Relationships with Businesses in the Community
- Take full advantage of where you are, using local resources and building upon existing connections.
- Help people to understand what your students can do and how they can contribute. There are often people working in these settings that have nothing to do with education and they may not immediately perceive how your students can fit into their workplace.
VI. Teach Students Basic Job Readiness Skills
In the beginning the goal is for students to develop a sense of themselves as workers. For many first jobs may not be especially fulfilling, but they can offer an opportunity to increase self-confidence and self-advocacy skills. Initially students need to develop basic work competencies, such as:
- being on time
- arriving prepared to work
- awareness of social relationships
- proper dress and manners (e.g. not coughing or yawning in someone’s face)
- dress code for different jobs
VII. Create a Resume
- All work experiences should be included on a resume, beginning with jobs on campus. Teach students to identify and keep track of basic information, such as:
- job title
- dates of employment
- work duties
See Résumé Development.
More on Preparing for Work:
Tiered work systems
Giving back to the community
A team of support
By Karen McCormack