Job Development: Introduction

Think College Learn


Section 1: Introduction to Job Development

Where is one place where everyone has the same focus on getting a good job and starting a career? College! That is one of the reasons a postsecondary environment is such a great place to do job development. Because the focus of COLLEGE is CAREERS, your job as a job developer on a college campus environment becomes easier because:

  1. Networking opportunities abound – it’s like a mini-city!
  2. All students are learning to balance work, school, and personal lives, so there are many good role models and supports
  3. Opportunities exist to increase self-determination and independence
  4. Access to on-campus work opportunities – from jobs to keep the campus running (dorms, restaurants, entertainment, maintenance), to academic departments, sports facilities, work study, and apprenticeships
  5. Higher expectations for all students – this isn't High School anymore!

For more detail about why college is great for job development, listen to Amy Dwyre in her video clip (11:17-17:17)

When it comes to job development, the biggest question is often “Where do I start?”  Without strategies and structure, the process can seem very daunting. This module will give you a step-by-step process you can use to create opportunities for students by getting your foot in the door of the right businesses and making your job not only easier, but actually fun.

Job development is about matching the skills and challenges of a person with the right employment. To do this successfully, a job developer must take into consideration the person’s strengths, abilities, challenges, and needs and then match these factors with the right work setting, supervisor, work tasks, and co-workers. A nice visual overview of the process from Discovery through to job maintenance can be seen in the resources section: Job Development Flow Chart.

Keep in mind what the role of a job developer IS, and more importantly what it is NOT:

A job developer IS:

  • a sales person
  • an on and off-the-job consultant
  • a liaison between the employer/co-workers and the job candidate or new employee
  • a marketer
  • a clarifier
  • a general provider of customer service to all involved

A job developer is NOT:

  • a caregiver
  • social worker
  • one-on-one job coach
  • babysitter
  • honorary employee of the business where the youth was hired
  • mother/father figure, or
  • the only reason a youth gets to keep a job!

If you have ever been tasked with finding meaningful jobs for students with intellectual disabilities (ID), you might think of yourself as a salesperson. As a job developer, your job is to sell a PRODUCT (in this case, qualified job candidates), and a SERVICE (on-the-job consulting at no cost) to a targeted AUDIENCE (employers who need assistance filling their hiring needs). But there is a difference between a good salesperson and a bad salesperson. In the following sections you will learn these differences while learning how to develop meaningful employment for students with ID.

Unpaid Work Experience vs. Paid Work Experience

Unpaid jobs or internships are common on college campuses, and these experiences can benefit students if they are time-limited with specific goals.  As a general rule of thumb, students with ID should have unpaid internships if typical college students would also be unpaid in that role.  These unpaid positions can be a rich learning opportunity for students who have had limited or no work experiences.  However, when a student is not paid, the supervisor may treat the student differently and may have lower expectations. Students and employers may view the employment situation differently if the student is rotating among a variety of work experiences that are time-limited. For example, if there is a predetermined start and end date, then a student does not learn how to give notice to an employer and the employer may not assign certain long-term tasks to that employee. 

College is all about high expectations, and paid work offers students a better opportunity to feel ownership and ensure that the job is one they enjoy and want to do.  Students need to learn the skills to find and keep the job, and how to leave the job once they have a new one.  It is important that students have experiences, expectations, and benefits associated with paid work.

Whether the work is paid or unpaid, the student must be involved in getting and keeping the job. When students are not involved in the job search process, you may find that students lack motivation.  In the video clip, Amy talks about the difference between paid and unpaid work and outlines the steps to follow to help students find paid work. (0:00-11:36). This video is a great introduction to a positive approach to job development.  It is very helpful to all staff engaged in helping students find jobs.

Amy Dwyre discusses how job developers can take advantage of the college setting in their job development efforts.Read more

Amy Dwyre shares the importance of paid work experiences, and reviews the steps to follow...Read more

This flow chart illustrates the steps to follow when developing jobs for people with disabilities.Read more