This past week, I participated in the American Foundation for the Blind’s 2014 Leadership Conference in Brooklyn, NY. I arrived early in New York to conduct a teen employment workshop at the Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, which holds a special place in my heart. I did my student teaching at Edward R. Murrow after completing my graduate work at Florida State University. I worked with 15 high-school-age students on self-awareness related to navigating the employment process as a person who is blind or visually impaired. A lot of the workshop is me asking the participants questions. All of the information is relevant to career exploration, interviewing, and succeeding in life. Throughout the workshop, I provide youth with real-life examples related to the main points. The examples are from my own life, my friends, and successful mentors from around the United States who are blind or visually impaired.
I was quite impressed with this group of participants and their level of enthusiasm, interest, and participation in the session. There were a few members of the group who had already had prior paid work experience or part-time jobs. Some were working with or doing internships with museums in New York City, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Conducting these workshops has been personally rewarding, as I get to interact face to face with students. Since September 2013, I have conducted 10 teen employment workshops with a total of 223 youth participants. I have three workshops coming up in Alabama and I am working on a multi-location schedule for Florida in May. I also try to arrange workshops in areas where I might be attending or speaking at a conference. I hope to get to your neck of the woods soon!
If I can’t get to you in person, you can still benefit from AFB CareerConnect. My fellow CareerConnect specialist, Detra Bannister, and I work hard to produce content and features that extend past the job search. Together with great consultants and an amazing Web team at AFB, CareerConnect is not just an awesome website for exploring careers, learning about the employment process, and reading Our Stories pieces, but also a resource for finding mentors, experiencing Virtual Worksites, and watching videos. Visitors can also check out Career Clusters, lesson plans, and much more.
In the very near future, we will be announcing some big changes that we have made to our program. The changes are pretty fantastic and feature innovative adaptations that will bring our program into a new era of mentoring. So, stay tuned for more information in the coming days! And check out my next post, which will be a reflection on the 2014 AFB Leadership Conference.