Employment Readiness Trainings Put into Practice at a Job Fair
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and the theme is “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.” Given the ongoing economic challenges we face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need employers to know that many people with developmental disabilities are ready, willing, and able to do the work our country needs. As an organization advancing social justice, S:US is at the forefront of this issue.
Throughout the late summer and early fall, persons supported Daymont, Shaida, Alicia, Jason, Meliani and Mary were hard at work in their job readiness preparation with their S:US Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), who works closely with them at an S:US Day Habilitation program in the Bronx. They met regularly to update their resumes, practiced their job interviewing skills through mock interviews, and attended paired question and answer sessions. They learned about good body language, along with appropriate interview attire and brainstorm on insightful questions to ask a prospective employer during an interview. DSP Stephanie Wimbush and her colleagues held these practice sessions to prepare the group to attend the Southern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services (SWBOCES) Job Fair which took place in September in Westchester County, NY.
The job fair attracted many nonprofit organizations along with for-profit businesses including CVS, Shop Rite supermarkets, and schools in search of Teacher Aides. Daymont worked on revising his resume and loves his newly updated version. “I took time to figure out what to wear for the job fair so that I looked presentable. I wasn’t nervous at all because I had practice interviewing with Stephanie, with my friends, and through my CVS training,” shares Shaida. Alicia mentioned “It was really helpful, they had different jobs and it was good to see what the choices were. They asked different questions at the job fair for on-the-spot interviews, and it was interesting. Stephanie helped prepare me a lot.” Jason liked the job fair “…because I got to see which job opportunities they offered and prepare for interviews.” Meilani appreciated all of the preparation that Stephanie provided her and her peers: “It was helpful to me to understand what to do in a job interview, what to wear and it gave me practice at answering questions for an interview. I really want to work and help my family, and this was helpful to me.” Mary stated, “I felt excited about the experience. It was positive and I am happy that I went. I got to practice talking about myself and my strengths which prepared me more for interviews.”
In many of the job readiness sessions, Stephanie posed questions to help them reflect on their interests, their likes and dislikes; explore their career goals; support them to acquire proper identification in order to apply for a job; craft a cover letter; and update their resumes. Topics discussed ranged from job location, appearance and presentation to prospective employers, scheduling job hours; commuting to a job; participating in mock interview sessions; and helping the job seekers brainstorm questions they have for a future employer. Stephanie cultivates their confidence and hone their communication skills to prepare them to have a positive experience in their job searches.
We at S:US are grateful to DSP Stephanie Wimbush and the program leadership at their day hab for supporting people with disabilities and helping them lead their best lives.