E-Community Activity: Understanding the Value of Work Experiences

Send this message to the e-community of protégés and mentors.

Subject: Understanding the value of work experiences

Work-based learning is an important part of a person's education. Below is a list of reasons why work experience is important. It was written by a successful person with a disability. Think about how what is said applies or does not apply to your life.

  • It can help you figure out what you DON'T want to do. A lot of people go through their education with a romantic vision of what career they will pursue after graduation. They often picture themselves as prepared, having taken numerous courses within the occupation's subject area. They are often very disappointed. You may not always enjoy the "practice" as well as the "theory." I have met all sorts of people who hated their jobs but loved their major.
  • It can help you determine which accommodations work best for you. The accommodations you use in school may not work at the work site. Your technology may not interface with the employer's. You need to become a master of your accommodations. Work-based learning gives you the opportunity to practice accommodating yourself....When you are applying for your "real job," you will know what accommodations you need, as well as where and how to get them.
  • It offers a low-risk, nonthreatening opportunity to disclose your disability to an employer. Disclosure of disability can be a nerve-wracking process for both the student and the employer. Interviews for internships and other experiences can help you try out ways of talking about your disability.
  • You can apply what you're learning in school to a real-world situation. This makes learning fun and offers a whole new perspective on the subject area.
  • It enables you to learn and practice skills not learned in a typical classroom. You can sometimes get academic credit for it. You can sometimes get paid for it. You can network with potential future employers. You can prove to an employer who has never had an employee with a disability that you are capable, thus creating a future position for yourself or opening the door for a friend.
  • You might have the opportunity to work with state-of-the-art equipment not available on campus. Employers want education AND experience. Just a degree simply won't cut it. If you want a job when you graduate, this is the best way to get experience in your field.

Why do you feel it is important to have work experience before completing school?