Finding Your Employment Journey
As a vocational consultant, I constantly hear that “there are jobs available, just walk down the street.” But if you are a person who identifies as living with a disability the reality is much different when finding your employment journey.
The first question you need to ask is, are you employment ready, both physically and mentally? Are your skills ready, up to date and is your resume complete? Do you have a realistic job goal? Are you personally ready to handle the stress of finding employment, going to interviews, going to an office, working with others and a host of other issues from navigating transit to accessibility barriers?
Roxanne Regnier self-identifies as living with a disability. For years she was not ready to face her employment journey. Her anxiety was so extreme that she was unable to conceive the idea of being able to work. But life circumstances intervened as they often do. The loss of her parents caused Roxanne to re-evaluate her life and she came to the realization that she needed to find a job. Her first step was getting help with her anxiety, she sought out counselling and took the first step towards returning to work. When I asked Roxanne about her journey, she replied, “When I thought about work, I would curl up in a ball and cry. But getting counselling helped me take the next step, to deal with my fears and anxiety and to work towards joining the work force.”
In May of 2018, Roxanne approached the Inclusion Alliance to seek help in finding employment. She met Linda Simpson who signed her on to access the Supportive Employment Program. Ella Gray became her vocational consultant and together they charted Roxanne’s return to employment. Ella helped Roxanne become employment ready, they honed her resume, they worked on her interviewing skills and together they identified a realistic job goal for Roxanne.
Roxanne’s first job was with The Care Centre as a receptionist in a casual position where she remained for one year. Next, Roxanne found herself a position as a scanning clerk / receptionist with Inspire Community Support Services. She remains working there today, it will be three years in June. Her duties have changed throughout this time. She started in a casual position and has become an administrative support person. She goes to work full time, 5 days a week and has throughout the pandemic. She describes herself as having much more confidence and she is comfortable in handling changes and adapting to new situations.
When asked how this is possible given her initial anxiety, she is forthright in saying it is many factors that helped her.
She describes the initial counselling as the starting point, then she attributes her ability to move forward to the support and confidence she gained through working with Ella at the Inclusion Alliance.
“I found them so helpful, I wouldn’t have been able to do this without them. They provided a safety net and Ella was so positive and supportive throughout my journey. Knowing this gave me strength.”
Next came finding the right employer, Roxanne says her employer is very helpful and made her comfortable in working with them. “It is still a struggle, but my employer is understanding and very supportive, I am really hoping to stay here.”
When asked what she is most proud of, Roxanne does not hesitate, she replies, “My progress, I have come so far, this was a humongous leap for me and to see what I have been able to accomplish makes me proud.”
Her advice to others that are considering starting their own employment journey; “If I can do it, so can you. Take the first step, it is always the hardest, seek out the supports you need and keep on going.”
The Inclusion Alliance is a consortium of Performance Plus Rehabilitative Care Inc (PPRC) and Job Zone d’emploi, providing supported employment services throughout the Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, Cornwall, and the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne. We assist jobseekers and employers in creating opportunities for all. If you would like more information, contact us at 613-933-9675 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .