April 2012 – Published in AHEAD’s Alert newsletter, by Dr. Michael McManmon, Founder of CIP, author of “Made for Good Purpose”
When young adults with Learning Differences complete their college education, they will need support in key areas to land a meaningful job.
After years of studying and taking exams, they are ready to find work in their field of interest. While finding employment may be difficult in these economic times, it is by no means impossible. There are several steps young adults with Asperger’s and other Learning Differences can take to find meaningful work.
Create a Vision
The first step towards finding meaningful work is to create a vision or imagine a field of work you are passionate about. Think about what interests and motivates you. You can begin to translate this vision into a job that is appealing and exciting for you.
Do Volunteer Work
To follow your vision or passion, try to fi nd a volunteer job or an internship in your area of interest. For example, if you are interested in health care, you can volunteer at a hospital or local clinic. You can start to develop your workplace skills and begin to determine how they might benefit a potential employer.
Shadow Mentors and Attend Workshops
Once you acquire new skills through internships or volunteer work, you can shadow employees or mentors who work in your field of interest. You may also find jobs at an entry level in your desired field that are supported with a job coach who can help with your transition to the workplace.
These key steps allow you to develop your skills and knowledge while building a solid resume. Career counselors and job coaches can also help arrange for you to attend appropriate workshops and seminars.
Refine Your Skills
You will need to refine the executive functioning skills necessary to succeed independently. Executive functioning is the ability to organize, plan and achieve goals, to prioritize and manage time. This involves the skills needed to navigate the workplace and social environments. It is also important to ask for help, advice and direction when necessary.
Self motivation also plays a role in successful employment. The ability to initiate tasks and work hard is appreciated by employers. You will need to make the transition from college or career training programs to ultimately work independently with minimal supervision.
Reach Out in Your Community
Reaching out to people you know in the community or on your college campus is also a good way to fi nd out what jobs are available. This is benefi cial because it helps you make connections and learn what skills you might need to develop in order to find the job the you’re looking for.
Don’t Give Up
It’s important to keep in mind that during the job search, there may be pitf alls and challenges along the way. There will be potential employers that aren’t interested and won’t call you back. It’s a competitive world we live in and many people are competing for the same jobs.
Nevertheless, with dedication and hard work it’s possible to find meaningful employment that is well suited to your skills and interests.
ABOUT THE AUTHER
Dr. McManmon is the Founder of the College Internship Program (CIP), Psychology Today blog author, and author of the new book “Made for Good Purpose, What Every Parent Needs to Know to Help Their Adolescent with Asperger’s, High Functioning Autism or a Learning Difference Become an Independent Adult.”