GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: Maddeline “Maddy” Thomas ’18 is a disability activist and will be contributing articles on disability awareness in the workplace and beyond. This is her first article for the blog.
Entering the workplace with disabilities is challenging. You are becoming a part of a work environment where your coworkers might not encounter people with disabilities. Also, you have to adapt your workstation and job responsibilities, so you can be efficient and comfortable in your job. People with disabilities should form great relationships with their supervisor and HR personnel because they will help advocate for better acceptance with diversity in your workplace.
Getting an education with disabilities can be discouraging and there is a common assumption to people with disabilities cannot handle a full course. You are the only one who can decide your educational path. A small private university is great if you want a specialized way of learning and get your degree quickly. It has a community feeling, makes you a well-rounded person and you are well supported. A public university is beneficial with a lower cost of tuition and you can focus on a degree. Some universities are impacted, and class sizes are larger. It might take longer to get your degree. A community college helps you save money and find which profession that suits you. However, it’s good to have an educational plan to transfer to a university because you might stay at the community college longer than expected.
Building work experience
You have to start somewhere. You can volunteer or work an entry-level position. You can work with kids and the elderly. Be an office assistant or receptionist. Work at restaurants, stores, libraries, and nonprofits. If a higher education is not for you, these jobs are a way to build your resume and get experience for a better job in the future.
I received my bachelor’s degree in accounting at Menlo College in 2018. During college, I volunteered shelving DVDs for the local library, preparing taxes for low income families, and assisting at a nonprofit. For work experience, I was an accounting assistant for a nonprofit and tax intern for an accounting firm. I was part of the student government and an orientation leader on campus. Currently, I am an accountant assistant at a nonprofit that helps people with disabilities find jobs called Project Hired and an accounting clerk at San Jose State University.
Categories: Disability Awareness in the Workplace