Learning to ask for help
It’s difficult for people like me with learning disabilities to find jobs. We don’t get a whole lot of support with how to write a resumé, or how to do an interview. And, when we do get a job, we sometimes don’t know what to do. Before I had support, I sometimes felt lost in this whole process—like I had to do it all alone.
When I tried to find my first summer job, there was a lot I didn’t know: like how to properly write a resumé, or the specifics of what to bring to the interview, or what questions were going to be asked. It made me feel nervous.I eventually got a job bussing tables at an amusement park for the summer, and at first I felt confident about it. Then, as I started working, it became overwhelming. There were multiple tasks that I had to do, and I wasn’t able to do everything at once. It made me a little scared when I thought about how I was going to get it all done.
When I thought about trying to find another part time job, I started to get nervous again.
It was my dad who suggested that a United Way-supported agency might be able to help me. The agency supports individuals who live with intellectual disabilities, and they offer a program that helps young people get the skills they need to find work. Thanks to the program, I learned more about how to look for a job, the kinds of questions people ask in interviews, and how to write cover letters and resumés. They also taught me about how to request accommodations in your job and how you can disclose to your boss if there are certain tasks you can’t do.
I also learned that it helps me to be able to focus on one or two things at a time. It makes working easier for me because I don’t feel as nervous or pressured. It’s more enjoyable. Asking for help is important too.
I have become much more independent at home and at school. I just graduated from high school, and I will start studying biotechnology at a local college this fall. One day I’d like to have a full-time job as a scientist and actually work in a lab.
I’m really lucky to have such a supportive community around me including teachers, my family and the staff at the United Way program that helped me. They encourage me, give me advice and really believe in me. It feels good. It means I’m not lost. It means I’m not doing it alone.