Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What Next?

Today was my first meeting with my new Vocational Rehabilitation counselor and it went really well. I applied for this government funded program almost 6 months ago and I got the final confirmation that I was in the program about three weeks ago.

 I spent about 2 hours with J.  and we reviewed the program and talked about my expectations and hopes. We talked about possible physical and cognitive limitations in a work place. We talked about my previous work history. It was a very soft, gentle meeting but it was intense at the same time. He explained to me that it really isn't a program as such with regular meetings, but it is a service that will help me prepare to re-enter the work force.

The short story is that I have not worked for a long time and I have no work references left. I am also vary aware that I won't be going back to the kind of jobs I had before. My last job was as a microbiology lab technician and teaching assistant for the infectious disease department of our Medical College. I also worked as a coordinator for a research program about genetic predictive testing for people with Huntingtons Disease. Eleven years ago I quit my jobs when my work hours were reduced.  At that time my father was hospitalized with heart disease and needed a lot of my attention until he passed away a year later.

 I was ready for a career change so I  started an evening college program in Web Design and Development. I only had two more courses required when I got sick. I tried to go back and take a Photoshop class only 3 months after I got sick and it was a huge mistake. I knew my hand wasn't working, but I did not understand at that point that I was suffering from a bunch of cognitive problems. I  was "encouraged" to quit and work on recovery and I have not been back to college since.

My new counselor covered the wide range of options open to me and told me that he wants to put me in a program that will be a 5 day vocational assessment of my skills, experience and interests that will also evaluate my endurance for a work day.  The assessment will be about 6 weeks from now and after that we will meet again to develop an "action plan" for me.

I could be assisted with going back to school for retraining or I could get to try out different jobs and get references through work placements. They will also help me with specific short term trainings, resumes and other work readiness skills. One very real possibility would be to start with a computer training program that they offer at their facility.  It would be for 6 weeks with about 8 other people with disabilities. That would be an easy way back into taking courses and give me something current that could be put on a resume.
He assured me that I can back out of the whole program at any time and that if I try something that is not working out we can switch and try something different.  It is all about me finding new directions for my life and it needs to work for me.

I have no idea where this program might lead, but I am very excited to find out.


Shannon said...

Sounds exciting.
Good luck Linda!


barbpolan said...

Congrats, Linda! As you know, my work is important to me - it helps me figure out what I want to do with my time and also challenges both my cognitive and interpersonal skills. You'll find something you love, I'm sure.

Grace Carpenter said...

It sounds exciting! Congratulations for starting the process.

Rebecca Dutton said...

It sounds like you've got the support you need to succeed. Good luck.

Marcelle Greene said...

Very interesting and looking forward to hearing your updates. "Endurance for a work day" is high on my list of concerns.

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