Pre-Employment Program



Short Courses
Pat Ryan, Supervisor
P: 617-972-7812
F: 617-972-7231

The Pre-Employment Program (PEP) is an intensive one-week residential workshop that equips young adults with the skills necessary for workplace success. The 2020 program will begin at 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 16 and end at 12 p.m. on Saturday, February 22.

Application deadline TBD.

Any applications received after December 1 will be reviewed, pending program space. Late applications accepted until February 3, 2020.

“As a professional interviewer I can tell you that these candidates are better prepared than most of their sighted competition.” – Stuart Coleman, Partner and Senior Managing Director at WinterWyman 

Critical skills at a critical age

  • Rigorous preparation for young adults ages 16 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
  • A chance to tour real worksites including a visit to Google's Cambridge campus
  • 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 
  • Applicable to internships, summer employment, college work-study jobs and careers

Contact Pat Ryan at 617-972-7812 or to learn more.


Any applications received after December 1 will be reviewed, pending program space.

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


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


Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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.

The PEP is a week-long program held during most Massachusetts schools’ February break. The 2020 program begins at 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 16 and end at 12 p.m. on Saturday, February 22.

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. 

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 hard copy 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. 

Living on campus is both convenient and a learning experience for PEP students. After classes are finished for the day, they’ll be able to work on their independent living skills and socialize with peers in one of Perkins’ fully accessible residential cottages. The residential component also allows students who don't live nearby to attend the program. 

The cost of the PEP is $4,000. This program qualifies for Pre-ETS funding in Massachusetts. Please contact the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind or your state’s vocational rehabilitation office for more information.


Students sitting and standing around a large orange owl sculpture

Perkins students visit Google campus

Participants in the Pre-Employment Program heard from “Googlers” with disabilities about how they chose a career.
Two men sit at a table and look at papers.

Ready for the working world

Perkins programs helped public school student Anthony gain job-searching skills and experiences.
A portrait of Danielle Sturgeon

Discovering her inner awesomeness

Home-schooled student Danielle Sturgeon turned to Perkins’ Short Courses to learn essential skills before going to college.