“Employers don’t like problems, they like solutions. We allow people to develop their own solutions; we give them the options, and coach them into finding their own solutions.”
– Kate Williams, Program Manager, Employment Immersion
After gaining skills in mobility, technology, and daily life, the final metric of success for a working-age individual who is blind or has low vision may be ensuring a solid paycheck at the end of the month. In that regard, our Employment Immersion Program could be thought of as our “capstone” training program, though for many it is their introduction to the LightHouse’s offerings.
In the blindness community, we know that one size does not fit all, and this is reflected in the curriculum of our 6-week immersive employment program. With a combination of short lectures, interactive activities, expert speakers and free-form conversations, each blind or low vision student has an opportunity to explore their interests, aptitudes, and think outside the box about which part of the job market piques their interest.
In addition to these discussions, students are coached in creating resumes and cover letters, using online job search tools, as well as real-life practice interviewing and disclosing a disability. These mock interviews, which involve role-playing with real professionals who take students through an entire hiring process, are a particularly important part of the process. “It’s not a skill people are born with,” EI program coordinator Kate Williams reminds her students, each of whom will eventually get to review their own video of the interview exercises.
“It’s like learning your golf swing,” says Williams, “ — you have a video, you notice this is what you’re doing wrong; you’re not leaning into your left side, following through. That’s what it’s like. You’re bouncing your leg, twirling your hair, saying ‘like.’”
In immersion, students are always encouraged to interact with one another, because some of the most important learning often comes from discussing shared successes and struggles with blind and low vision peers. “Each group we’ve had has become very closely knit — I love seeing those relationships start in the classroom and continue. When we have employment immersion events, and people come back, it’s almost like they’re family.”
The LightHouse’s Employment Immersion program has been so successful that each year its graduates earn more than $2 million in salaries. All were unemployed before they joined our program.
For more information, contact Kate Williams at kwilliams@LightHouse-sf.org or call 415-694-7324.