It Takes Work to Get Work: Looking for Employment – Part 1

overhead view of a college campus

Credit: COD Newsroom

The blind community talks a lot about how to get from place to place, and I’m no exception. A lot of my previous posts here have centered around travel – traveling on campus and getting from class to class, taking public transportation, using buses and trains (and, in my case, Uber). Today I want to steer away from that and talk about something that isn’t talked about too often – employment.

Why this isn’t discussed much perplexes me. As blind adults, we are perfectly capable of getting and maintaining a job. It does take some work, though. I know this from experience.

I’ve had some small jobs in the past. When I was 20 years old, I worked at the Jacksonville Area Center for Independent Living in Jacksonville, Illinois as an office assistant. During my time at College of DuPage, I volunteered at the AIM Center for Independent Living.

As you might recall from reading a previous post, I did have a job interview off-campus last year during my time here at Northern Illinois University. That interview didn’t go well, and after that my confidence was so shaken that I put the job search on hold for a little bit.

Just so you know, by “a little bit,” I mean maybe two weeks. Then I searched again.

Previous attempts at looking for jobs on campus had been discouraging. A good majority of the on-campus jobs I found were visual, with no way to adapt them. Some used software I had no knowledge of; some used software that was inaccessible; others had shift hours didn’t fit my schedule; or the job involves traveling all over campus (I didn’t know the campus well enough to walk, the bus I take around campus can’t always be on time, and employers who were asking for too many hours weren’t willing to negotiate with me).

The one thing that kept me searching for an on-campus job was this: on campus employers would be less likely to discriminate against me for my blindness. This is something I kept repeating to myself. At times it felt like I had no justification for this mantra I’d developed for myself, but it seemed like it just…made sense. And that was enough for me.

I applied for jobs in the spring and I continued to do so in the fall. I can’t recall all of the jobs I applied for, but I do remember one of them being the writing center. The thought of helping others with their writing and helping revise their papers excited me – I love writing, as you might be able to tell.

But they weren’t hiring. I applied to work at our school’s library, but never heard back. No matter how many times I reached out, all I heard were crickets. The rest of my applications are a blur.

But then one day in the spring of this year, I was browsing Twitter and came across a tweet from my school’s official twitter page promoting the Northern Ambassador position. I jumped at the chance…to get more information about it. Not apply right away. I wanted to get more information before I applied. I wanted to save myself from the effort of applying, only to be let down again.

I started out by texting my old resident advisor. I knew he’d had had this job previously, so I asked him about it. He said there were some visual parts, but he talked highly of the employers and encouraged me to apply.

So, I went for it.

Want to find out what happened next? Read Part 2 and Part 3


 

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  1. Ali Says:

    Most likely next week! I’m glad you liked part 1!


  2. Marilee Says:

    When will part two be posted? So anxious to hear more!!


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