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The Value of Job Search Skills Training for Teens and Young Adults

Future Reflections

Spring 2020

The Value of Job Search Skills Training for Teens and Young Adults

American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults


by Anne Steverson

From the Editor: In 2017 Future Reflections published an article called "Career Mentoring for College Students" by Sophie Kershaw. The article described the outcome of a five-year mentoring program for blind college students conducted at Mississippi State University. In this article Anne Steverson shares the outcome of another pilot project at Mississippi State, this one providing blind college students with training in job search skills.

We know from research that blind and low-vision youth are less likely than sighted youth to have early work experiences and to be employed after high school. We also know that paid work experience during high school predicts later employment for blind youth. However, finding opportunities for early paid work experiences can be challenging, especially for blind youth who may not have been encouraged to believe they are capable of working like their sighted peers.

The National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision (NRTC) at Mississippi State University recently conducted a research project to find out if job search skills training is beneficial for blind and low-vision youth. As part of this research project, a program was developed to train blind and low-vision youth on the various aspects of job search skills. This program is called Putting Your Best Foot Forward (PYBFF).

Blind and low-vision high school- and college-age youth participated in the PYBFF program. They took part in group discussions, role plays, and small-group exercises that focused on using examples to demonstrate their strengths and skills to employers, interacting with employers, learning the importance of networking, disclosing their disability, and overcoming barriers to employment. In addition, the youth had opportunities to practice filling out job applications, writing résumés, and participating in two interviews with employers.

Researchers followed up with participants periodically to inquire about whether or not they continued to use the skills learned from the program and whether they were employed.

I talked with one of the research participants, Shelly (not her real name), about her job search experiences and participation in the PYBFF program. Prior to PYBFF, Shelly was not sure how to start searching for a job and what to do to look for one, although she did some career preparation in high school. The program helped her realize there is more to life than school, and that she can be productive as an adult.

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