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Career Exploration

  • From a values standpoint, it is important to recognize that volunteer work is not a substitute for paid employment. As part of the career development process, keep volunteering brief, and make sure that the goal remains employment.
  • For both legal and ethical reasons, people with disabilities should only do volunteer work that is similar to what other members of the community are doing as volunteers.
  • It can sometimes take enormous effort to find a volunteer job for a person with a significant disability. Such effort may be better spent on finding paid employment!
  • A final word: Volunteer work is an option for some people in specific situations, but it is not for everyone.
  • Temporary Work Assignments: A short-term, temporary work assignment can help an individual determine whether or not a job or setting suits them, and adds experience to a resume.
  • Situational Assessment: Situational assessment means trying out a job in the community, for a few hours up to a few days, so the job seeker can determine if they are well-suited for that type of work. Individuals are often paid by a non-employer source for situational assessments. State Vocational Rehabilitation (a One-Stop partner) or local community rehabilitation providers may be able to assist in arranging situational assessment. For a detailed explanation of situational assessment, see the book Demystifying Job Development (reference at the end of this article).

  • What Method to Use
    There is no one right way to go about career exploration; methods will vary depending on the needs and abilities of each individual. To determine which methods will be the most useful, consider the following points:

    • Choose methods that are appropriate to the individual. For example, someone who has limited interpersonal communication skills and abilities will probably not benefit from an informational interview, and might be better off doing a situational assessment.
    • Use the methods that provide the most information in the shortest time so the individual can move ahead with the actual job search.
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