Skip to content

Making work part of your plan.

A person with long hair and glasses is smiling at the camera. We can see their eyes and nose, but the photo is cropped above their mouth.

“I had a job coach for my first job. After 40 hours, I could work on my own. Anyone can work with the right kind of help.”
– A Hub user

Work topics:

Youth and work

When you work, you build your skills and become more independent.

A job can help you live on your own and buy the things you want. A job also lets you give back to the community. You might need help to find a job or learn how to do the job — and that's OK. There are many ways to help you be successful at work.

If you wonder what type of work you should do, think about the things you enjoy and the things you're good at — and how you might use those interests and skills in a job. You can find a job doing something that matters to you. If you're unsure, you can get help exploring different jobs and finding a job.

You might need to take classes, enroll in a training program or job shadow with someone doing a job that interests you. You'll also need to learn how to be clear about what you want, what you need, what you understand — and what you don't understand.

Your benefits might change when you work. Still, with planning, when you work you'll make more money than you would if you were on benefits alone.

As you begin to plan your path to employment and build your skills, consider using this employment resource guide for students with disabilities to help you along the way.

Read Kylie's story for inspiration or to jump start your own conversations about work.

Kylie is in a high school transition program. Kylie and her work coordinator had a person-centered, informed choice conversation about work.

While talking to Kylie, the school work coordinator discovered Kylie loved going to her local salon and thought she might like to work there. Knowing Kylie was moving toward employment, the work coordinator invited a Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) counselor to Kylie’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting. A week later, Kylie applied for VRS services. The work coordinator contacted the salon to inquire about job possibilities.

With school support, Kylie interviewed at the salon and was hired for 10 hours per weekend. School support is not available over the weekend, so VRS authorized seven hours of job coaching to support Kylie as she started her job. Kylie was able to work with natural supports when the seven hours of job coaching ended.

If Kylie had needed ongoing support once stabilized in her position, job coaching through supported employment services would have been authorized through her DD Waiver.

Parents, families, teachers, coaches and other adults have a big impact on your path in life. Their expectations and attitudes can help you move toward your work goals. Here are some things that can make a positive difference.

  • Encouraging you to work. The biggest way your parents can help is by believing that you can work and expecting you to contribute in a meaningful way. Their encouragement can help you succeed in whatever you decide to do.
  • Giving you chores. Many experiences can prepare you for work. Having chores to do at home — like feeding pets, cleaning your room, taking out the garbage and setting the table — will help you have a strong work ethic now and later in life.
  • Talking to you about work. Talking with your parents about work can be helpful. Let them know you're interested in working. Ask them about their work. What do they do? Do they like it or not? Why?
  • Giving you advice. Your parents likely have years worth of work experience. Ask for their advice and take it seriously. You can make your own choices, but it's helpful to pay attention to suggestions from the people who know you best.
  • Finding ways for you to explore work. Your parents probably have a lot of connections, maybe through their work, friends, neighbors or other family members. Ask them if they know anyone who does something that interests you and if they could help you talk to that person about their career — what they do, what they like about it and what they don't. This is called an informational interview. You can also do things like summer camps, volunteer projects and community education classes to meet more people and make your own connections that might help with work in the future.
  • Helping you use planning tools for work. Your parents can help you plan for the future, including work, by using tools like the Charting the LifeCourse life trajectory worksheet (PDF). 

From exploring interests and career options to gaining work skills and experience, many schools offer resources and services to help.

For example, Pre-employment Transition Services (PDF) can help you:

  • Explore jobs
  • Get work-based learning experience
  • Think about what training or education you might need after high school
  • Learn self-advocacy skills
  • Get work experience

If you have an Individual Education Plan (IEP), tell your IEP case manager that you want to work. You might also be able to get help through Vocational Rehabilitation Services, WIOA youth services and waiver services.

« Previous: Supports and accommodations at work | Next: How employment has worked for others »