Blog # 20- Vocational Rehabilitation As The Stepping Stone To Regaining Employment

Many of you may be wondering, “What is vocational rehabilitation?”.  Vocational rehabilitation involves people with disabilities receiving assistance with obtaining and/or maintaining a job. Forms of assistance that vocational rehabilitation counselors can provide include career inventories and assessments; vocational goal planning and problem solving; health advice and promotion; support of self-management of health conditions; adjustments to the physical and psychological impacts of a disability (i.e. requesting assistive technology or receiving reasonable accommodations in the workplace in order to successfully perform the essential job functions), case management; psychosocial interventions; vocational counseling and career guidance; job analysis; job placement; and functional and work capacity evaluations.

After making the tough decision months ago to resign from a case management position at an agency that works with older adults and people with disabilities due to thyroid problems as well as a seizure that occurred a couple weeks after, I have begun to re-evaluate where my strengths lie in terms of work, but also, areas where I felt I needed to improve as well as seek out help and support. Due to health issues, and despite making the efforts to advocate for what I needed in order to be successful at work, I have realized I had some difficulties getting these concerns addressed to previous employers in addition to experiencing some restructuring in previous companies which at times affected my health and well-being. I eventually reached out to someone at the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission who I have known for a while personally and professionally who could help assist me in regaining employment. Her name is Cindy.

Cindy was someone who knew my family well as she had a son who played baseball with my brother several years ago. Cindy also spoke in my human services courses at Assumption College as well. When I first reached out to Cindy, I told her my situation, and I stated to her that I needed help and support with job placement supports in finding a position where my strengths could be utilized and where I could be a great fit. I also needed help with finding effective strategies for appropriately disclosing my disability and/or medical conditions in the workplace in order to receive assistive technology and/or reasonable accommodations in order to successfully perform the essential functions of the job. Cindy eventually connected me to a job placement specialist named Molly. After speaking with both Cindy and Molly about my strengths and my areas of need, we all came to an agreement that given my past experiences with administration with several human services organizations that I would likely do well in an administrative coordinator position at a human services agency. While I was applying and interviewing for jobs, Molly provided me some great support and guidance with reconstructing my resume as well as providing me effective interview techniques. After months of applying and interviewing for jobs, I am really thankful to say I have landed a job at a human services agency full-time with benefits as a home care administrative coordinator. I have already begun my position with the organization, but Molly and Cindy are continuing to provide me with support and guidance over the phone and through email, especially if I have questions or concerns that come up that I need assistance with. Although I did the bulk of the work in finding a job, the help and support that both Cindy and Molly have provided me have helped me to regain confidence in myself and to help me to re-establish autonomy as well as empowerment in a job again. Although I have only started my new position a week ago, Cindy and Molly will continue to work with me to make sure that we do everything we can to try to help me to remain in this position at the new organization I work for. So far, I am doing very well in the new organization I am working for.

I hope by sharing this experience that it gives other people with disabilities hope in finding or regaining employment in the hopes of obtaining and maintaining a job in which they will feel fulfilled as I truly believe vocational rehabilitation is the stepping stone to helping someone, especially with a disability, to start, or, to get their life back on track in terms of employment. Remember the notion that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather, the key to succeeding one’s goals and objectives? Well, my story is an example of just that.