NOTE: October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month
By Theo Brooks
When I lost my job in the food industry, I didn’t know what to do. Without my job, I was feeling defeated. I was frustrated that the job I enjoyed and looked forward to was gone.
I stopped by INCLUDEnyc, which my mom found, that helps young people with disabilities like me and their families. One of their youth educators spoke to me and gave me an assessment. From that point, I started to feel more optimistic that I had opportunities.
I visited the youth educator a few times and after several conversations, I realized that I had valuable skills from the food industry and my experience in building maintenance. I could do anything I set my mind to.
I started applying to jobs again. INCLUDEnyc suggested a retail opportunity. The educator worked with me to fill out the job application and prepare me for the interview. I was worried about questions that I would be asked about my work experience, but the educator coached me to handle the questions. I knew how to answer the tough questions and focus on my strengths.
When I went to the interview, I was prepared, but still nervous. I was happy I did well and as INCLUDEnyc taught me, I wanted to send a thank you note. The youth educator helped me draft the note. Then, all I had to do was wait. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait too long. I received an offer the very next day! I also continued to work with the INCLUDEnyc educator to build my skills. We talked a lot about budgeting and time management. Both are so important for my life and my career.
Now, I have a retail job that I really enjoy. I work at a Marshall’s store in Manhattan. I’m a retail clerk, and I help out wherever I can. Sometimes, I’m organizing inventory and other times I’m helping customers. I like my co-workers, and it’s a great environment. I’m proud to say that everything is going well.
I used to worry about what my future would look like. I know now that I can’t always predict what will happen, but I’m prepared. For anyone like me who might have a hard time finding a job, connect with others. There are great people out there who want to help, and they believe in you.
Theo Brooks participated in INCLUDEnyc’s Project Possibility program, which provides intensive support for youth who are transitioning into adult life. As a member of NYS Transition Partners, INCLUDEnyc is a leading Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) Parent Training and Information Center (PTIC) organization providing young adults with disabilities and their families with postsecondary education and employment resources.
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