Individuals of varying ability can work! As you consider entering the workforce, you should do some career exploration. This allows you to examine your skills, interests, preferences and abilities and how they might match up with various jobs and careers. One idea is to take a self-assessment, which gives you a snapshot of your personality, skills, interests and preferences.

If you are not yet ready to take on a career, but know you are interested, one idea is to job shadow/find a mentor. This provides the opportunity to spend a day with an individual in their place of employment learning about how they spend their day, the type of work they do, and their work environment. Individuals may set up shadowing opportunities through their school, college, or by networking with individuals around them.

“Just as no two faces are alike, so are no two minds alike.”

B. Barakhot 58a

Disability Mentoring Day

Disability Mentoring Day is “a nationwide effort to promote career development for students with disabilities through hands-on career exploration.” Disability Mentoring Day takes place every October in conjunction with Disability Employment Awareness Month. For more information, visit the American Association of People with Disabilities website.

Once you are ready to work, you may need to ask for certain accommodations. But, what is a reasonable accommodation and how do you request one? A reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to a job or work environment that allows you to fully participate in all employment related activities. As a job seeker or an employee, it is your responsibility to request accommodations. Resources such as the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can help determine the best accommodation for you. A reasonable accommodation may be requested at any time.

Accommodations are not limited to only your job functions. Your place of business should provide accessible break rooms, cafeterias, restrooms and transportation, if company provided.

New Jersey Resources

In Southern New Jersey, Jewish Family & Children’s Services (JFCS) offer a full spectrum of vocational and employment services, including job development, job coaching, and long term follow along support, and work readiness training. JFCS believes that all individuals have the right to explore community-based employment as their first option. It is the belief of JFCS that individuals have the right to seek “real jobs” for “real pay” and lead meaningful and productive lives by working within their community. A team of Employment Specialists and Job Coaches help individuals obtain and maintain competitive employment. JFCS is an approved Supported Employment vendor with the New Jersey Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) and the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD).

One program to consider that is provided by JFCS is “Soups and Sweets”, a food service training program designed to provide young adults with special needs an opportunity to gain transferrable culinary skills. Program participants will learn how to work in a kitchen and prepare a variety of soups and desserts, which will be sold to customers, businesses, and organizations in the community. At the completion of this six-month training, JFCS will assist and support participants with job placement in the food service industry. There is no cost to participate in this program. Soups and Sweets is supported by the NJ Council of Developmental Disabilities, NJ Office of Faith Based Initiatives, NJ Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Wright Cook Foundation, and private donors. For additional information on the JFCS Soups and Sweets Program, call 856-424-1333, or email soupsandsweets@jfedsnj.org.