Tag Archives: Tips

Finding a Job that Works for You

Growing up is a little scary for everyone. The idea of being on your own, having a job, a career, owning a house and starting a family of your own can be both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. If you have a disability, gaining the independence that comes along with adulthood has its own set of unique challenges. How will you manage your care? What will you do for transportation? What kind of work can you do and who will hire you? That last question is one that I heard a lot while working for people with disabilities; and one that I heard in my own head after I was laid off from my job of seven and a half years in April.

I am not going to lie, finding a job in today’s economy is hard work. I applied for at least one hundred jobs while I was out of work and got exactly three interviews; two of which never got past the initial phone interview stage. Finding a job might have been a bit easier if I did nott have a disability to consider; not only did I have to find a job that I had the skills for, but I also had to consider my transportation options, as well as whether or not the job would be able to accommodate my disability.

At first, I tried working from home, figuring that that would be the easiest solution. I had some success in that. I found a few writing gigs that I enjoyed, (ODesk is a great site if you have writing, editing, graphic design, or translation skills.) but they were not enough to pay the bills. Additionally, my attempts to sell on etsy did not yield much in the way of income either.

Ultimately, I was able to find a job that was perfect for me. I was not able to work from home, but I was able to work part time. My experience searching for a job was enlightening and I learned a few valuable lessons I would like to share.

  • Don’t waste your time applying for jobs that you know won’t meet your needs. Sure, you want to apply to as many jobs as possible, but applying for jobs you know you can’t get to, or preform, is a waste of everyone’s time.
  • Don’t get too caught up in what people might think about your disability. Once you land an interview, it is easy to get worked up over how you might explain away your disability. The simple answer is don’t. You got the interview based on your skills. Skills that have nothing to do with your disability. Your interview is less about you and more about what you can do for the company, focus on that and you’ll be fine.
  • Take rejection in stride. Just because you didn’t land one job, does not mean that you are hopelessly unemployable. Keep trying, learn from those failures and eventually you will find something that works for you.
  • Use the services offered to you. There are several ways to get help during your employment search, and most of them are free. These services can help you write a resume, identify your skills and even help you figure out what your limitations are and how to accommodate them. Contact your local Center for Independent Living, or unemployment office to find out the types of resources available.

By keeping the above points in mind, the search for a job should seem less daunting and overwhelming. Just remember that everyone has obstacles to overcome when applying for jobs, regardless of their abilities.

Smart Train Travel

Traveling is stressful for everyone, but when you have the added complications that come with a disability, it can be even more of a headache. I travel a lot. Because I cannot yet drive, and I am terrified of airplanes, I do most of my traveling by train. Over the years I have taken dozens of trips by myself; most to Illinois and Indiana, but also all the way to Colorado. Over time I have learned how to make my trips as painless as possible; below is a list of things that I have found helpful when traveling by train.

  •  Book your tickets online, if possible. I know this seems backwards. Wouldn’t you want to talk to a real person so you can make sure necessary accommodations will be made? In theory, that makes perfect sense. In reality, humans make mistakes. I cannot tell you how many times I have booked an accessible ticket over the phone, only to get to the station and have the people at the counter scrambling because my reservation didn’t state that I used a wheelchair and needed the lift. Ever since Amtrak has implemented a way for passengers with disabilities to book online, this is no longer an issue because I am personally checking all the boxes, not relying on someone else to do it for me.
  • Get there early. This is crucial. If you want to have a successful trip, you should always plan for the worst and hope for the best. I always get to the train station about a half an hour early, minimal. I let the employees know that I have arrived, that I will need the lift as well as staff assistance when the train comes in. The staff at the train station will be incredibly busy when that train rolls in, so establishing your needs early ensures you don’t get lost in the shuffle.
  • Bring your own drinks and snacks. Long distance trains often have snack cars that sell drinks and snacks to passengers, but you are much better off bringing your own. This is true for two reasons. First, you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for a soda; and second, although the snack car should technically be accessible for you, the aisles on a train are just big enough for a wheelchair. This makes it awkward when you have people trying to get back to their seats. The conductor will sometimes stop by and ask if you need anything, but that doesn’t happen very often. If you bring your own snacks, you can avoid a traffic jam and a growling stomach.

These are just a few things I do to make traveling easier. Obviously, you will want to be sure that the form of transport you chose can accommodate your needs. Accessibility information for these services can be found on their webpages. Amtrak is a great service, they offer many accommodations and even discounted ticket prices to passengers with disabilities, but not every station is accessible, so make sure to do some research before you book your trip.

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