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Resources by Topic >> Employment

What are your career goals? How will you reach them? What supports and resources are available in the DC area to help you find and keep meaningful employment? Employment provides independence, and doing a job well builds pride and self-respect. Start planning for a career while in school by writing employment goals in your IEP, learn the skills necessary to find and keep a job, and seek out real-world experience with internships and volunteer opportunities.

Getting a Job: Finding the right opportunity may take patience and hard work, and getting the most favorable consideration requires a number of skills that you can build and practice.
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On the Job: Getting a job is only the first step. Job security and advancement are long-term efforts that depend on personal skills as much as competence and diligence.
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Salary: Many people find satisfaction in their work, but everybody likes to get paid, and most would be happy to earn more. Salaries for various jobs are affected by the responsibilities and skills involved as well as the experience of the individual.
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Rights & Benefits: Just as the law guarantees students with disabilities the right to a free appropriate public education, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) makes it unlawful to discriminate in employment against a qualified individual with a disability. It is important for you to know your rights regarding consideration for employment and reasonable accommodation on the job.
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Supported Employment/Day Programs: If you need ongoing support to be successful with a job, supported employment may be the answer. Supported employment provides extra supervision and assistance to employees with disabilities. If employment is not an option but you still want to get out and be a part of the community, a day program could be right for you.
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Volunteering: Volunteers are not paid, but they are "employed," not only making themselves useful, but potentially gaining valuable work and life experience. If you aren't ready to join the ranks of the employed or can't yet get the job you want, a well-chosen volunteer position may help your transition.
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Internships: Interning is another even more focused method of gaining training and experience "on the job." Some internships come with a salary; others don't. They may fit into a school schedule or be full-time, especially summer positions. They are an excellent way for employers and potential employees to "try out" each other on a temporary basis and often transition to regular employment.
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You ought to exercise pretty much every option you have because you never know where one is going to lead. It’s nice to be making some money, and I’ve definitely gained a lot more than that out of this experience.
—Ahmad Zaghal



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