Do you spend a lot of time thinking about your career options? What do you come up with? Dealing with a disability is hard in so many aspects of life, but I can honestly say I never truly felt prepared for how my disability was going to affect my job prospects. I was so focused on one particular path. It’s fair to say I had tunnel vision when it came to thinking about how I would find a job that I liked. Sound familiar? In the past few years, I learned how limited my view was and realized how virtual internships and volunteering, not only helped me network but learn great skills I could add to my resume as well.
Virtual Internships: You Don’t Have To Leave The House To Gain Experience
Internships are a great way to learn about an industry, narrow down career options, and gain invaluable experience. When I first started thinking about life after college at the end of my junior year, I didn’t have any experience related to the marketing positions that I was thinking of applying to in my field. My disability meant that I couldn’t get a job in retail like so many of my friends, but I really wanted to do something to give myself the best chance at landing a good entry-level job. I was thinking too much inside the box. I should have known I’d have to think outside the box when it came to my career, just like most aspects of my life where my disability is involved.
The fall of the year that I graduated from college, I went on a few interviews that sadly, didn’t turn into anything. Nevertheless, I wasn’t too discouraged. The holidays were coming up and I decided to focus on that time with my family, but I had one more informational interview before I could turn my attention to the holidays. That interview turned into a 3-month internship for the following year, a virtual internship.
I didn’t have to worry about the accessibility aspect and I would finally get the opportunity to gain great experience in a field I was really interested in learning about. During my 3 month internship, I learned so much about using social media for business purposes and the more I learned, the more I was glad that I had gotten this opportunity. I was even given the opportunity to publish my first guest post. I loved this internship, it was this experience that guided me to start this blog or at least one of the things. I was so happy doing this, that I was honestly a little annoyed at myself for not thinking of it sooner. Looking back on it now, especially since I’m still in a period of reflection with the new year, and the journey I’ve been on, sometimes I can’t believe that I never thought to look for virtual internships
Internships, specifically the experiences and the people you meet during them, can guide you into a future career or spark an idea for a new one. My internship completely transformed how I thought my career would unfold. I know that there are many opportunities for me despite my limitations, I have to either find them or create them. Honestly, yes there are times it’s going to be really hard, but keep looking, you’ll never know what internship you may land or where it may lead you.
However, internships are not the only way to improve your skills, learn about a new career path, or build your network whether they are virtual internships or not.
Volunteering: Giving Back To Your Community
Tired of hearing/ feeling like you don’t have enough experience to get that job? Volunteer!
Volunteering gives you the opportunity to discover different career options, learn new skills, and make new connections. If you’re passionate about a cause or the work that an organization is doing, do your research then reach out to them to see if they need help. Volunteers.
Once I decided to turn my blinders off a.k.a. tunnel vision and really thought about it, I realized I had some options. I thought of a few other ways I could improve my skills as well as a few other industries I could look into for that elusive experience that companies are looking for, but can be hard to come by when you have a disability. I looked online, called a few places and within the next few days, I was set to start volunteering somewhere. I’ve been doing it for a few months and I’m having so much fun, and learning some new skills I’m sure I can use in other fields will serve me well.
When looking for places to volunteer, think about then pick one or two causes you’re interested in and look at the options available in your area. If you don’t see any prospects, trying picking a different cause or checking some job websites, that’s actually how I came across the place where I’ve been volunteering for the past few months.
Additional Ways To Learn New Skills & Build Your Resume
- Use youtube to learn basic skills a new software or platform
Youtube is full of content, start searching to see if there are any helpful videos for things that you want to learn. It’s an easy way to learn the basics and could be helpful in the next opportunity you get.
- Take a course or two
Thinking about a field you might want to go into, take a course or two on the topic to see if you really like it, before you commit to it, that way you can get a better feeling for the field and decide if this is something you really want to do.
There are probably quite a few other options that you can think of to build your resume and your network, but if I listed them all here this would be a really long post, but whatever you decide, enjoy the journey and do your best to make the most of your opportunities. I won’t lie and say it will be easy because it won’t even with these tips. You will get frustrated and wonder if you’re doing everything you can, but keep working at it, you’ll find a way to get that needed experience if you stick with it.
Living with a disability forces you to think outside the box when it comes to many aspects of your life and you have to do the same when it comes to your career too. Although some would argue that nothing mentioned above was really outside the box and they’d be right. My point in this post is that there is more than one way or one path you can take to achieve your goal. Virtual Internships, Volunteering, something else, or a combination of sorts, it doesn’t matter, as long as you find a path that works for you.
~See You Soon
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