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How to Progress in Your Career

As a worker with a spinal cord injury, you may have gaps in your employment history or you may be entering the workforce for the first time. This does not mean you can’t land your dream job. However, landing your dream job takes time. To progress in your professional life, you must consider the process of career development. Most workers start with an initial job and work their way up to their dream career through time, while they gain the necessary work experience. 

To progress in your career, you must first find an initial job, then seek further experience before finally landing your dream job. 

Find an Initial Job

While entering the workforce, you must consider what skills you have and what career you eventually want. Your dream job should reflect your talents and the tasks you enjoy completing. Once you identify your ideal career, you should first pursue an initial job that will develop your skills needed for the career you wish to pursue. For example, if you would like to be an assistant manager at a retail store, you should start by seeking a career as a customer service employee or cashier. These jobs would give you the retail skills and experience needed to eventually move up to a higher position.

Finding an initial job does not mean you should apply for any open position. You should only apply for positions that will give you the skills and experience necessary to progress in your career. Finding an initial job is not only beneficial for gaining experience; an initial job can serve as a trial run where you can figure out if the field you are working in is right for you.

Seek Further Experience

After holding your initial job for a period of time, you should decide if you would like to progress in your career. If you would like to progress in your career and hold a higher position someday, you should seek further professional experience by applying for higher positions or expressing your interest in a promotion. By holding your initial job for some time, you can gain the experience and skills needed to be qualified for a higher position. 

For example, after holding a cashier or customer service job in a retail store, you can seek out the position of Shift Manager or Supervisor. These positions will bring you closer to your ideal job of Assistant Manager, as you gain more skills necessary to be qualified for your ideal position. You would also have the chance to work closely with the Assistant Manager while holding these higher positions, which means you can learn more about your ideal job and see if it is the right fit for you.

Land Your Dream Job

Your further experience in a higher role can help you become qualified for your dream job. However, depending on what your ideal position is, you may have to pursue several different further professional experiences before you land your dream job. Often, getting a management position or any other higher job openings requires several years of experience in other, similar jobs. Don’t be discouraged if you do not get an offer for your dream job when you first apply; make sure to pursue all relevant professional experiences possible, such as promotions within your workplace, until you land your dream job. As you gain further professional experience, remember to add your new work experiences and skills to your resume. 

Landing your dream career can be difficult, especially while living with a spinal cord injury. However, an absence of professional experience or gaps in employment history do not disqualify you from eventually getting your dream job. Everyone has skills that are relevant to certain positions. As you seek your dream job, keep in mind your skills and your passions. Finding an initial job and seeking further professional experience can help you land your ideal career. If you have questions on how to progress in your career as a worker with a spinal cord injury, contact us today.


Pathway to Employment for Young Adults

If you have a spinal cord injury and are under the age of 30 years old, then this article is for you! Below are tips on the different options and services that are available to get you educated, trained, and employed with the support of free employment and benefits counselors. You do not have to do this alone.

Vocational State Programs

State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies are entities run by the state that focus on helping people with disabilities get back into the workforce. VR agencies provide people with disabilities with the necessary training and services to return to their workplace, enter a new field, or enter work for the first time. Common VR services include education, job training, career counseling, assistance with job placement, and benefits counseling.

Vocational State Programs are great resources when it comes to helping people with spinal cord injuries become qualified for finding work. Contact your state’s Vocational Rehabilitation Service Center nearest you today to see if you are eligible for support.

College Disability Support Services

Getting a college education can help immensely with finding employment. However, you don’t have to go through your college journey alone. There are many resources that you can utilize if you would like to pursue higher education at a college or university. All colleges and universities are required by law to have disability support services through their school. Typically, these resources are called Disability Services, Disability Resource Center, or the Office of Accessible Education. These services allow university officials and students with disabilities to work together to put accommodations in place to help the student complete their education. 

Common accommodations students with spinal cord injuries request through their colleges are note-takers for lectures, extended time and a separate location for taking exams, and access to text-to-speech programs. By utilizing their college disability services, students with spinal cord injuries can acquire the services and accommodations they need to succeed in their college careers. All you have to do is register through your school’s support service as a student with a disability, and then you can start receiving accommodations. Ask your school’s disability support service workers what documentation is needed to register you as a student in need of disability services.

Student Earned Income Exclusion

Going to school or job training after high school can be expensive. That’s why finding work during your schooling or training process may be necessary to keep up with your expenses. If you are below the age of 22, attend school or job training, and receive SSI benefits through the government, you are eligible to participate in the Student Earned Income Exclusion (SEIE) work incentive program. 

When you participate in SEIE, Social Security will lower your countable income by deducting part of your earnings from your job. Social Security does this so you can keep most, if not all, of your cash payment through SSI while still having the opportunity to make money through working. This can maximize your total income and increase your financial independence. For more information on the Student Earned Income Exclusion program, visit the Social Security website at www.ssa.gov. A trained benefits counselor can also help you through the SEIE process.

Work Incentives Planning & Assistance

Work Incentives Planning & Assistance projects, or WIPA projects, provide free benefits counseling to people who receive Social Security disability benefits. The goal of WIPA projects is to help people with disabilities make informed decisions about employment and while considering how a job income may affect their benefits.

With a WIPA, you can learn more about different programs, such as Ticket to Work and Work Incentives, to see if they are right for you. You can receive consultation on what to do when you are looking to work while still keeping your benefits through the state. WIPA projects help people at all stages of the employment process, whether they are looking for a job, waiting on a job offer, or already working. If you are already working, WIPA can provide you with advice on how to move towards financial independence. WIPA projects can serve as great resources for all eligible people with spinal cord injuries.

Ticket to Work

The Ticket to Work program is a free, voluntary program for people from the ages of 18 to 64 who want to find work and who receive Social Security Disability benefits through the government. Through the Ticket to Work program, people with disabilities are given access to an employment team and a benefits counselor to help them through the path of finding employment.

Your employment team can help you identify your technical skills, recognize your career goals, develop your resume, and find opportunities for employment and training. Ticket to Work employment teams often find you state vocational programs that would help you advance your skills. Your benefits counselors can help you navigate the process of work while also receiving state disability benefits. The goal of a benefits counselor is to maximize your benefits while you are working and to track how your job income may affect your benefits through the state. These services can be incredibly helpful for young people with spinal cord injuries who wish to work. Visit the Social Security website for more information on the Ticket to Work program.

Finding a job and going into the workforce as a worker with a spinal cord injury can be hard, but you do not have to do it alone. There are many free resources at your disposal that are designed to help people with spinal cord injuries go to work. If you have questions about any of the programs listed above, or about entering the employment field with a spinal cord injury, contact us today.