After discussing potential career interests privately and taking career interest inventories to narrow down types of jobs each student wants to explore, groups take tours of a variety of workplaces to check out the work environment, talk to people doing different jobs, and ask questions. Part of the value is what they learn -- part of the value is doing it together with your peers!
Deciding “what you want to be when you grow up” is a question we all wrestle with, in high school and potentially throughout our careers!
We help students think about their talents, interests, strengths, and limitations.
One of the barriers to deciding on a career path for most youth, especially those who have a disability, is lack of exposure to choices and role models. Students say they want to teach because that’s the profession most of us are exposed to most when we are young. They may have had a great Social Worker or Health Care provider, so conclude that’s what they want to do. These might be great options, but ESP helps to expose students to what else is possible so that they can make informed choices about their career direction, while also building the skills needed to get a first job and gain work experience.
Some options to explore career opportunities:
- Participate in 1:1 interviews with our staff to think about your interests and hobbies and how they might relate to job opportunities.
- Complete career exploration tools such as the Strong Interest Inventory and Strengths Finder. What do you like to do? What are you good at? Which job categories pique your interest? Which professions are you definitely NOT interested in?
- Join us on workplace tours, informational interviews, and guest speakers working in a variety of careers. These are both online and in-person when possible.
- Learn about “O’NET” – a public online tool that digs deeper into that or other potential careers. You see someone doing work that you could see yourself doing, but what kind of education did that require? How many jobs would there be waiting for you if you pursued that education? What is the typical salary? Work hours? Work environment?
- Conduct informational interviews with people doing the type of work you might be interested in pursuing.
- Find people who are visually impaired who are doing that job and many others through Trades Win (link to Trades Win page).
- Earn stipends through projects, blog posts, and presentations to share what you’ve learned from this career research with your peers.
Career Exploration is a hybrid service. Much of the work, like assessments and informational interviews and guest speakers can be provided on zoom.
But once it is safe to do so, a key feature of ESP are the field trips to workplaces, colleges, and social activities. A typical ESP community-based activity includes a visit to a business or training venue followed by dinner with peers at a restaurant so that students can socialize, explore what they learned, and discuss the pros and cons of whether that career pathway might be something they are interested in pursuing.