by Alicia Wolfe
AFB CareerConnect is proud to announce the addition of the Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide on the CareerConnect website. With the national implementation of the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA), states are working to increase pre-employment transition services to youth who are blind or visually impaired to assist them in accessing and succeeding in the workforce. AFB CareerConnect has responded to this innovative and important act by developing activities to support these youth in learning to research, apply for and ultimately land a job, work experience or internship, while they are still in high school. Yes, high school!
Community Rehabilitation Providers, Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies, Teachers of the Visually Impaired and other professionals preparing these youth for employment, can utilize the activities to facilitate workplace readiness and work-based learning experiences. The activities in the guide are unique in that each activity has a corresponding electronic braille file (BRF) in the Unified English Braille (UEB) Code ready to be downloaded and embossed.
Some of the activities within the Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide include the following:
- A downloadable Timesheet for student's to use during work experiences or internships
- A lesson on Researching and Applying for Jobs
- A Work Performance Appraisal for employers to provide students with feedback about their job performance
- A Job Application for students to complete
- Lessons on creating an Elevator Speech and a Marketing Message to improve the job search
- An activity to facilitate a Student-Led Individualized Education Program (IEP) Meeting
If you have a Summer Transition Program underway or are preparing to support students in locating a part-time job before they head back to school, be sure to check out the activities.
As you move forward with implementing WIOA, keep in mind the ultimate resource kit to enhance your student's employability skills can be located on AFB CareerConnect website and includes the Transition to Work: Program Activity Guide which should be used in tandem with the Job Seeker's Toolkit and the Maintaining and Advancing in Employment Course.
by David Ballmann
Now that we are entering into the gardening season, I think of many analogies relating to employment. Just as one needs to cultivate and care for a garden, we all need to cultivate and build upon our own areas of career development. It is always good to reassess your career and/or career goals and to refocus. Some tasks relating to this may include cleaning up your resume, learning some new skills that will add to your value in the job market, and developing new job contacts. It is a good idea to review your resume periodically, looking for outdated entries, adding new skills or experiences you may have gained since your last revision, and reviewing for relevance to your current job goals.
Just as gardening requires specific tools for specific tasks, so does the labor market. It is good to look at requirements for various jobs you are interested and then evaluate whether or not you have the needed skills. Such an evaluation might lead you to find that you need to develop skills in certain areas, for example, written communications or staying on task, or possibly learning a specific software application. You could then work on improving these skills. This could be done by looking for volunteer experiences or part-time jobs in positions where you would be utilizing the skills that need improvement. Other suggestions could be to try to focus on staying on task more in your daily life or possibly volunteering on a board or committee that would allow you to further develop these skills. You could also take a course, such as those offered by local community colleges, libraries, the Hadley Institute for the Blind, or AFB CareerConnect’s Job Seeker’s Toolkit.
So just as reaping a good harvest from a garden requires planning, attention to detail, staying on task, and focusing on the big picture so does preparing for a job. I hope that your career will reap a bountiful harvest this summer.
by Shannon Carollo
I, personally, think there is a key to unlocking the potential of your social network. Here’s what I mean: For a social network to thrive as a collection of mutually beneficial relationships, you must focus on other people. If you and I are consumed with serving our own needs in peer-relationships, we’ve lost the whole “mutually beneficial” component.
I feel I just wrote a paragraph on “how to succeed in marriage.” I suppose it’s true for most all adult relationships: If you focus on caring for others (within boundaries and most contexts, of course), the natural byproduct is other well-intentioned individuals wanting to help with your success. For better or worse, that’s just the way it is.
Let’s brainstorm practical ways to focus on others:
- Ask your boss to relay her work-related goals, and if applicable, focus your attention on working toward achieving them.
- If you are asked for advice, constructive criticism, or suggestions, you can provide honest, helpful information and resources. The alternative is choosing to withhold information in order to stunt the growth of your peer.
- Choose to be encouraging, kind, and helpful to others.
- Practice good listening skills in order to demonstrate respect for others. Read AFB CareerConnect's Communicating on the Job article for the specifics.
- Demonstrate genuine care and concern for others in the midst of difficult times.
- Introduce others who would benefit from connecting, such as a job-seeker you can honestly recommend to a hiring manager.
- Put effort into learn people’s names and job titles. I’m not suggesting recognizing individuals by sight or voice if you are blind or visually impaired, but knowing who works where and that ‘Jimmy stocks materials’/ ‘Laura cleans the office on Fridays’ helps people know you think they are important.
- Don’t monopolize conversations.
- Be aware of what others need from you. If it’s in everyone’s best interest, meet their expectations. Your office-mate probably needs you to stay relatively quiet so he can work without distractions. The peers in your group project need you to complete your portion well and on time. Your juniors need clear expectations, encouragement, and support in reaching their potential.
In a nutshell, I’m saying what you learned in first grade: Do unto others what you would have them do unto you. It’s golden. Take care of others, and others will take care of you.
Now go, a strong social network awaits…
Learn More About Your Social Network
by Shannon Carollo
Have you tuned into a Facebook Livestream? It's super cool. You can watch and/or listen to an individual speaking live from their home or office (or from the playground for that matter!) as you type comments or questions for the speaker. In addition to listening to American Idol winner Trent Harmon on Facebook Live because his voice is nothing short of spectacular, I recently listened to Kelsey Humphreys, a motivator on achieving success, interview real estate tycoon Barbara Corcoran. If you watch Shark Tank, you know the assertive, sharp, and kind Ms. Corcoran.
The listener comments scrolled across the screen [I can only hope a screen reader would recognize the comments] and Ms. Corcoran answered about four questions. One that stood out to me was, "How do you suggest finding a mentor?"
Her answer was coming from the perspective of an extremely successful and very busy field expert. Ms. Corcoran and other field experts don't necessarily have time to chat with a handful of mentees for lunch on a bi-weekly basis.
So instead of broadly asking for a field expert's mentorship, Ms. Corcoran suggests asking to trade expertise. She mentioned asking, "Can I help you with your (insert your expertise here) in exchange for thirty minutes of your mentorship in (insert his/her expertise here)."
I think this is a wonderful suggestion because it values the mentors time and is mutually beneficial.
For more information on mentorship, read our mentorship blogs, linked below. Note that most of these are video blogs!
- Why You Need a Workplace Mentor...Visually Impaired or Not
- Think Outside the Box: How a Person Who is Blind or Visually Impaired Can Seek Mentors
- Six Guidelines for Establishing an Effective, Healthy Mentorship
- So You Think You Can Dance? I Mean, Mentor? Yes, You Can. Here’s How.
- Why Employees Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Should be Career Mentors
What do you think about Ms. Corcoran's suggestion?
by Katy Lewis
The same principles for safety and ease of access that you employ at home can go with you into the workplace, and yet how many of us have really taken a look around the office with safety and efficiency in mind?
Here are some work safety tips to get you started:
If you have any usable vision, contrast, lighting, and other environmental features can make a big difference in how easily you move around and how safe you are in your workplace. Door trim that is dark to contrast with white walls, makes navigating a long hallway of office doors easier, and can help you feel confident that you have found the right door. A light colored jacket on the back of a dark office chair that usually blends into the dark carpet or office furniture, makes your chair easier to spot. Even changing a face plate on an electrical plug to contrast with the wall or the sockets makes plugging in an electrical cord easier.
The right lighting, most importantly, control of the lighting, in your work space is vital. Reduce glare with opaque lamp shades or window blinds. Lower light levels with adjustable switches. Or, remove bulbs from fixtures to lower brightness. Conversely, add lighting when needed. Under cabinet lights designed for kitchens work well under hutch top desk or book shelves. A desk lamp with a goose neck or articulated arm allows you to position the light directly on the task. You don’t always need a brighter bulb, sometimes you just need the light source closer to the task.
Clear walkways of furniture and clutter to help prevent falls. Make sure boxes are stacked against walls and if temporary obstructions are necessary, make sure someone knows to tell anyone who is blind or has low vision about the precise location. Rugs or mats should be flat and secured to reduce the risk of tripping. Keeping cords out of walkways will make the fire chief very happy and make you safer at the same time.
And, organization habits that assist you in finding things you need quickly increases your efficiency on the job, and makes you a better worker. Know the path to emergency exits, not just from your desk, but from other areas such as restrooms, conference rooms, and your boss’ office. If the power is out, you may be the one leading others to safety. Practicing good safety habits in the workplace is just plain smart.
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