Career Guide for College Students with Disabilities
- Discriminatory hiring practices
- Fear of disclosing disabilities during the application or interviewing process for a job
- Inadequate education regarding disability rights
- Lack of career counseling or mentors
Career Preparation in College
Consult a career counselor
- Job shadowing: If you’re interested in exploring a profession, job shadowing is an excellent introduction. These short-term opportunities last anywhere from a few months to a single day and are intended to help students become familiar with the duties, skills required, and accommodations needed to perform daily tasks in a particular role. This can be especially useful to students with disabilities, as it can give them more information about the specifics of the job and available resources.
- Apprenticeship: A much more structured system of training than job shadowing, an apprenticeship consists of occupational training and academic instruction. It is also typically a more long-term commitment, as apprenticeships often last between two to four years. The student is taught by experts in the field and given progressively difficult tasks, building their skillset to the level required to succeed in the given career.
- Service learning: This method combines working toward career goals with community service through nonprofit, government, or charitable organizations. Helping your community with important public issues is gratifying and can give learners insight into their career interests and skills. While service learning doesn’t typically confer course credits, it often opens the doors to future internships.
Get involved in extracurricular activities
Exploring different career paths for students with disabilities
- Communication careers: A degree in communication is a versatile and useful tool in the modern workplace for those with disabilities. Companies require effective content and social media marketing in order to grow, and those with degrees in communications are perfectly equipped to handle these tasks. These positions often allow remote work and flexible work schedules, which can help accommodate the needs of individuals with specific disabilities.
- Computer-related careers: Jobs that require frequent computer use — like computer support specialists, accountants, or statisticians — are especially suited to those with limited mobility. They’ve seen continued growth over the past decade, ranging from 12% to 18%. They also typically have high employment rates, making them relatively safe routes as career paths.
- Healthcare careers: Healthcare jobs are seeing explosive growth. Personal care aides, registered nurses, home health aides, medical assistants, and nursing assistants are among the fastest-growing occupations in the world. While the physical requirements of these jobs differ, having the proper licenses, certifications, and computer skills can open many doors in this sector.
- Human service careers: Given the number of federal and state organizations dedicated to providing assistance and resources to people with disabilities, it should be no surprise that human service careers in government agencies are great options for these same individuals. Getting a bachelor’s degree in psychology opens many doors for people looking to work in this field.
Learn and understand your rights when seeking employment
The Americans with Disabilities Act
Disclosing your disability
Empowering yourself against disability discrimination
Job search, resume, and interview tips
Resources for job searching
- abilityJOBS: A site developed by the same minds behind ABILITY Magazine, employers and job seekers can connect on abilityJOBS, an accessible platform for job seekers with disabilities. They also provide tips for disclosing disabilities and learning interviewing techniques.
- Disability Job Exchange: America’s Job Exchange offers an alternative portal for job seekers with disabilities called Disability Job Exchange. They also have a team of advisors willing to provide resume and career advice.
- disABLEDperson: Another resource is disABLEDperson. This site is operated by a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose goal is to reduce the disproportionately high employment rate of people with disabilities.
- Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP): The WRP is designed to connect federal employers with recent college graduates. It is operated by the DOL’s Disability Employment Policy and U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Diversity Management & Equal Opportunity (ODEP). In conjunction with this program, the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) offers online support to people with disabilities and is committed to “helping employers tap the benefits of disability diversity.”
- Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD): Students can also utilize COSD, an organization that connects students with disabilities with major employers including AT&T, Microsoft, Bank of America, and Texas Instruments, among many others.