Employment for teens with disabilities is notoriously low, with 16.6% of teens with disabilities ages 16-19 having jobs. On the other hand, 29.9% of teens with no disabilities are employed (“Youth Employment Rate”). Libraries can help local teens land jobs—for the summer or beyond—by hosting career preparation workshops. These workshops should be open to, and helpful for, teens with disabilities and without, but some of the advice is exclusively for teens with disabilities.


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  • Application and Resume Workshop

This workshop requires registration, because you want to make sure there aren’t too many teens for the librarians (and parent or teacher volunteers) to work with. Teens can bring in an application for a job, or practice filling out blank templates the library has on hand (many free samples can be found with Google searches). Teens can also get help formatting their education and job history into resumes.

  • Trial Job Interviews

This workshop also requires registration, because you’ll want to have enough time to interview every teen who attends. Teens can be interviewed by a librarian, or a panel of librarians and parent or teacher volunteers, to give them a trial run of a job interview. This interview can be customized, if the teen is applying for a specific job, or just be more generalized to give them interview experience.

  • Job Fair

See if any local businesses would be willing to host a job fair at your library. If potential employers aren’t able to be there in person, host a job fair at the computer workstations, where teens can search job listing websites and apply online, with librarians nearby to help.

  • Job Coaches

Find out if any local organizations for people with disabilities offer the help of job coaches. These services are available to people with disabilities so they have someone with them as they learn the ropes of their new job. The coach doesn’t do their job duties, but is around to make sure that the new employee understands the job duties and the manager’s instructions. The job coach can help the new employee for several weeks, then slowly diminish how much they work with the teen, until the teen is comfortable and confident working alone.

  • Teen Employment Mix and Mingle

Host an event at the library where teens with jobs can talk to teens without jobs and give them advice. It can be set up like a panel, where a few teens speak to the whole audience, or more informal, where teens with jobs can wear a certain color name tag, and other teens can approach them—or both! Teens might feel more comfortable learning about the job search, training, and employment from people their own age.

  • Work at the library!

Offer volunteer positions for teens with disabilities at the library. Have them apply and interview for these positions just as they would for a job, so they get that experience in, but will also learn to have a schedule and keep track of their hours. This volunteer position will also be something they can put on their resumes and applications for other jobs!

“Youth Employment Rate.” ODEP – Office of Disability Employment Policy. U.S. Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2016.

About Allison Renner

Allison recently graduated with her MLS and is a new teen services librarian in Memphis, Tennessee.

2 Thoughts on “Career Prep for Teens with Disabilities

  1. hilltopfaculty on May 3, 2016 at 11:05 am said:

    RE: mock interviews. You may also want to see if any community business leaders would help out with this. It’s a nice partnership for the library and great exposure for the teens.

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