Finding Your Career Path
Your interests, strengths, and aspirations
Your interests, your strengths, your aspirations—they matter!
Your capabilities and your career dreams matter now, even though things might have changed. No matter what your disability is, let your strengths and aspirations guide your career path, not just your disability.
Broaden your ideas of what people with disabilities can do
There are many examples of people with all types of disabilities in a broad range of jobs and career sectors. People who are blind have become lawyers, professors, and business owners. Veterans with PTSI have become medical doctors, physical therapists, and engineers. Veterans with missing limbs have become stockbrokers, athletes, coaches, and carpenters. Veterans with depression have become business owners, nurses, psychologists, astronauts, and sports broadcasters. The examples of veterans with disabilities finding paths into careers are endless.
Before you dismiss a career option because you believe people with your disability can’t do the work, think again. Don’t dismiss a career path without fully understanding your options. People with disabilities use accommodations to balance limitations caused by their disability every day. And it’s likely you will too. Technologies and assistive devices allow for very creative ways to approach tasks for work and life. It’s likely that there are supports and accommodations you haven’t yet considered.
New to disability?
If you have a newly acquired disability, you may still be in a process of working through what this means in your life and career. You may still be trying to find effective treatments. Your disability could be changing. But in the midst of all this, there’s a few things to consider. Your views on disability and what’s possible could change. Right now, you might still be operating with an “outsider” view of disability—a view based in the negative assumptions of disability that are only too common in our society.
Focus on your strengths, manage your limitations
Focusing on your strengths and managing your limitations is advice that works for anyone, whether or not they have a disability. First, pay attention to your strengths and aspirations. Then, consider what accommodations and supports you might need to pursue your chosen career.
Chase your dreams
Don’t ignore your wildest career dreams. If you have a persistent passion for a particular career, pay attention it. Something about it captures your interest, even if the dream itself is just a dream.
Say you wanted to be a quarterback. What is it about being a quarterback that has captured your passion? A love of football? A desire to be strong and fit? Making lots of money? The excitement of winning or losing? A desire to perform in front of others? Or something else. If it truly looks unlikely that you could an NFL quarterback, can you express that career passion in a different way? Maybe you could become an athlete in a different sport, maybe you’ll become a coach, or maybe a sports journalist. The point is: There’s a reason why you have this strong and persistent career aspiration. There’s something in it you need to pay attention to. And…by the way…many NFL quarterbacks do have disabilities.
Talk it out and make a plan
With your career counselor, consider what career options might be right for you, given your talents, skills, and career aspirations. Keep in mind the basic message of this Tool. Focus on your strengths; manage your limitations. Choose a career based on your talents and hopes. And be prepared to ask for what you need to succeed. Manage the limitations of your disability by requesting accommodations and supports if you need them.
When meeting with your career counselor, use the Veteran’s Career Planning Workbook to get ready for your career counseling session. Or fill it out with your counselor during your session.