Finding work is hard enough these days, and even more so for new college graduates. I found this out a few ago when I graduated with a Bachelors in Radio/TV/film.
I had lots of volunteer experience and even completed an internship with a local radio station. Due to my disability and past poor health I never had a real job. I did work during my senior year of high school, and I was in a co-op program and worked a few months in a local Kindergarten. I went to work with my paraprofessional that was paid by the school system. That job was eliminated when the school system ran out of money.
During and after college I worked closely with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation or DVR. I also had a job coach provided by the DVR. The DVR helped pay for my college education and my van I drive.
Although I had a lot of support from them, I only received a handful of interviews in two and a half years. I know part of the lack of interest from employers is due to the huge number of people looking for employment.
Another big problem I had, and lots of recent college graduates have is not having work experience and employers will not give you a chance to build any.
The third reason I had trouble finding a job is that I was only looking for part – time employment. Lots of full time jobs are out there, but in order to keep my much needed SSID benefits I could only work a certain amount of hours and earn a certain amount of pay.
I live in a smaller town and have no interest in moving. This also caused less opportunities for employment.
Lastly I believe I was not hired over this much time, was due to my disability. With being the size of a child and having back and lung problems I am sure employers didn’t want to take the risk hiring someone whom may not be able to pull their own weight.
I finally received an interview and a job with the YMCA. Soon I had thirty intimidating faces of children in grades K-5th staring at me. I was hired as a lead teacher in an after school program. I would be working about three hours a day five days a week on average.
Soon the children had asked all their questions about my disability and they became accustomed to me, like they did with each other.
It’s a very stressful job, but also very rewarding. You never know what to expect and most days your busy every moment your there. With staff and student changes it was a challenge adapting at times. The huge age gap in children makes it hard to come up with things they all would be interested in. Also some of our students had either special needs or rough backgrounds.
Although the pay is not the best, at least I get my YMCA membership for free.
For the first time I feel like my community wants me. I know I’m a role model for other disabled people. This job also gives me an opportunity to educate children on how to treat disabled people. It also gets me out of the house every day. My job gives me a place in society.
Finally when people meet me and ask what I do for a living, I have a real answer. I do pay a price for working my part time job. Some days I go straight to bed when I get home from work as I am so tired. Other days I feel like I’m losing my sanity with so many children needing my attention all at once. I also pay a financial price for working. I now have to pay $150 a month towards my insurance when it was free before.
This really hurts when I make $400 max a month from working. I followed all the SSID and Ticket To Work rules and I still get penalized. I feel I’m doing the right thing by working as much as I can and the government punishes me for working. They have programs in place to educate and find disabled people jobs, but other programs keep us from doing just that. All these things are the reason the physically disabled population tend not to work. With our medical problems and a complicated system we have to deal with, the government does not persuade us enough to make work worth the enormous effort it takes.