Self-awareness is the key to finding a job in which you will excel, and self-advocacy is the path to making sure you can thrive in the workplace.
This blog is part three of Transitions’ series on Qualities Employers Look for in Job Candidates. Every person has something great to offer a workplace, including young people with autism and learning disabilities. There are certain universal qualities that all top employees possess, regardless of their industry or job level. This series will present a few of those qualities and the ways in which you as a parent, teacher or service provider can help teach them to the young adult in your life with autism or other learning disabilities.
This week’s installment focuses on skills that can help any person take charge of their life and set themselves up for success in every area: self-awareness and self-advocacy.
Employers need employees who can recognize not only their own talents, but also areas in which they can improve. Knowing what one needs to succeed and how to ask for it is also a great benefit to employers who strive to make their workplaces as accommodating as possible and their employees as productive as possible. Candidates who have strong self-awareness and self-advocacy skills are:
- Aware of their strengths and weaknesses
- Eager and willing to improve and take on more responsibilities over time
- Accepting of constructive criticism and advice for future success
- Knowledgeable of what supports and accommodations they need to succeed
- Able to speak up for themselves to receive those accommodations or actively seek them out on their own
How You Can Help:
- Teach young adults what accommodations are available in the workplace and what laws and rules exist to protect their rights on the job site, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Encourage young adults to speak up for themselves respectfully and get what they need in all situations. Try not to speak for them or intervene on their behalf unless absolutely necessary.
- Use role playing and script writing to teach students how to interact appropriately with supervisors when asking for what they want or need.
- Seek out opportunities for the student to take part in leadership roles that require them to practice advocacy in a way that has a real impact on their lives and the lives of their peers, such as student government, scouting, clubs and societies.
Self-awareness can be an elusive quality even for the most independent of adults, but it is a hallmark of maturity and success. Self-advocacy is vital not only for being taken seriously as a professional adult, but also for increasing one’s own self-confidence and motivation to succeed in the world. For more information about Transitions and how its programs help young adults with autism and learning disabilities learn their potential and take charge of their lives, contact us at (518) 775-5384.
About the Author:
Gina Warsaw teaches Career Success courses at Transitions, which cover professional presentation, preparing resumes and cover letters, job searching, basic job skills, interacting professionally in the workplace and more. She has almost 30 years of experience supporting people with disabilities to reach their life goals, including more than 10 years focused on helping people transition into integrated community employment opportunities. Gina is currently the Director of Day Supports at The Arc Lexington.