AHRC New York City partnered with the Cooke School and HSBC to bring holiday cheer and valuable employment advice to dozens of people receiving support. The virtual vocational workshop, entitled “Entering the World of Work: Job-Hunting Tips for People with Disabilities,” was held on Wednesday, December 2.

These three partners arranged for gingerbread houses to be sent in the mail to participants’ homes, ensuring that each person could join in the edible building activity following

Karen Zuckerman, AHRC NYC’s Director of Community Partner Engagement, introduced AHRC NYC self-advocates and others receiving services to students and faculty from the Cooke School, an accredited educational organization specifically for students with disabilities, and to HSBC staff members.

You’ll hear different information that will help you in terms of your job search and going forward, and then we will have a fun activity with the gingerbread houses,” Karen explained.

Dealing with a Disability at Work

People from AHRC NYC and the Cooke School introduced themselves by stating what their personal dream job would be. Michael Carbonaro from Staten Island Day Hab Without Walls, for example, said he aspires to become a sought-after motivational speaker.

Melissa Heise, HSBC’s Head of Tax, candidly discussed her struggles with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and how it affects her at work. She described her troubles focusing during conversations, struggling to initially adapt to an open-floor work environment, and getting easily overwhelmed with multiple tasks at hand.

My disability is not a secret—most people at work who have any interest know this and I talk to them about it,” Melissa said. “It up to you how much you want to share. I’m not terribly open, but I will tell someone if they need to know. I will tell people sometimes if they noticed certain symptoms; it makes them more comfortable to know about ADD than it does me.

Melissa encouraged job seekers to be open with their future employers about their disabilities and any accommodations they may require. “Your work can’t help you with a problem they don’t know exists,” she explained.

Valuable Career Advice from a Trusted Source

Workshop attendees received further working world advice from Whitney Pemberton, HSBC’s Director for Community Outreach & Information Services. Among the helpful tips she provided from her perspective as a Human Resources professional were:

  • Allow your resume to showcase your talents—highlight your accomplishments, including outside of work. Internships, volunteering. Highlight academic achievements if you are right out of school, including sports and extracurricular activities.
  • Have someone you trust look over your resume. That can be a parent, a teacher, a relative, or a school/life counselor. “You might have missed something important that you should highlight for a prospective employer,” Whitney said.
  • Cover letters can highlight your personality and your interests in a way that resumes can’t.
  • Have a trusted adult or friend help you apply for jobs. Use a service such as Indeed to help you keep track of where you’ve applied.
  • Dress for the job and come to the interview prepared to answer questions about your resume.
  • Finally, job interviews love it when you ask them questions too!