Guest post by Linda Chase from Able Hire.
If we want to (or feel a need to), we can find inspiration around us daily, whether it’s a friend emerging from bankruptcy to become a successful CEO, or simply finding hope in a gentle sunrise. Some of the most exciting inspirational sources are those that appear when we least expect them, like an elusive shooting star, or yes, two wheelchair tennis players accomplishing something in sports history that their non-wheelchair colleague could not: winning the elusive tennis Grand Slam.
Whether with disabilities or not, people don’t typically start their path thinking about inspiring others; it’s their journey that creates the inspiration. If you’ve imagined your journey culminating in owning your own business as a programmer, what’s stopping you? Examples of individuals with disabilities owning businesses and thriving in lucrative careers abound. And one thing they’ve learned along the way is that when the journey seems long, it’s okay to breathe, and it’s okay to ask for help.
Here are some additional tips to help you reach your full potential in the world of programming.
Leveraging and matching your strengths
If the world of business has always fascinated and intrigued you, one look at the options inventoried in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Business and Financial Occupations Handbook reveals that you have plenty of business areas to choose from, depending on your interests and aptitudes. If you’re a creative problem solver, then a career in programming is a natural fit, be it in software or app development, web development, or another specialty. If your disability makes working with numbers challenging but you are great with people, then a career in human resources may be a good option. Similarly, if you enjoy the real estate industry but have mobility challenges, working the loan and mortgage end of the business may be a viable path.
Most business careers require at least a bachelor’s degree. Fortunately, technology makes this more accessible and realistic than ever, and not just for a business degree. If you’re motivated by salary potential, take a look at the possibilities in health care, public relations, and engineering.
You may also want to keep an eye on your future goals; for example, once you’ve gained experience and credibility working for someone else, you may want to take strides to start that journey to entrepreneurship by starting a consulting business. A computer science degree expands your options in several related consulting endeavors – learning about logic, architecture and systems, data structures, AI, and computer theory can lead to a website development business, cybersecurity, or enterprise system consulting. Honing your AI and robotics expertise can even help you design and implement assistive technology for others with disabilities.
Getting your smarts in the door
Keeping in mind John Heywood’s timeless phrase “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” remember that the time was spent doing the building. Your education and career entry are your journey building blocks that will take you to your goals, and perhaps even to building your own business empire.
Knowing how to find the right internship by poring through networking and online job platforms, or getting the word out to family and friends and friends of friends has helped many students and college grads get their start. While most internships are no-pay or low-paying opportunities, some can be used to earn college credits. The additional value you earn is exposure to a career opportunity. There is no better way to learn the pros and cons of a job than being immersed in its daily responsibilities. It’s a good litmus test to determine that your selected career is, in fact, right for you or vice versa.
A successful internship that garners a positive recommendation from your managers can also be that single advantage that sets you apart from other applicants when it comes to getting that first job. You may even be offered an employed position from the company that gave you the internship.
An important note about employment and your disability: If your disability is not obvious, it’s not absolutely mandatory for you to disclose it, but if you don’t, your company cannot provide you with any necessary accommodations to help you perform your job. It could also work to your advantage to be open and honest about your disability, detailing how you overcame any obstacles it presented. A worthy employer appreciates and rewards determination and hard work.
Let each milestone inspire you more
No matter if you choose a career path in programming or follow another passion, remember that journeys are filled with as many faltering steps as steady ones. Sometimes the destination changes. Don’t take these changes as setbacks; that’s what journeys are for, to gain experience, learn from mistakes, and lead us to a destination that’s right for us. Whether you change majors in college or career goals in your professional life or have days in which you curse your disability for the extra challenges it is forcing you to face, remember to embrace and celebrate each milestone along the way – to be an inspiration to yourself.
This was a guest post by Linda Chase.
Linda Chase created Able Hire to help people with disabilities build rewarding, successful careers. She hopes Able Hire will be a resource for people with disabilities seeking jobs and for hiring managers seeking a better understanding of what people with disabilities have to offer.
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