Employment Immersion Client Sara Hadsell Gets Job at Department of Labor

Sara Hadsell grew up in New York and moved to California where she attended high school at Menlo School in Atherton. Highly musical, she studied viola and voice at Vanderbilt University where despite the disruption of a sudden eye surgery right in the midst of finals, she graduated cum laude.
Sara Hadsell sits at her work station at the Department of Labor


Sara was born with a genetic condition called coloboma – small parts of her eyes are missing and over the years this has profoundly affected her vision. Sara acknowledges that her low-vision has been a stumbling block towards finding employment. Her first job after college required a lot of data entry, and she managed to get her work done by using a handheld magnifier and increasing the font size on her computer. But despite taking a six-month training course at Louisiana Center for the Blind where she learned blind independence skills such as adaptive technology, braille and mobility skills, all of which should have evened out the playing field for her, subsequent attempts to secure employment were stymied by employers’ unwillingness to work with a low-vision employee.

But one thing she learned about herself during this frustrating time was that she had an inclination towards advocacy and the law. So she moved back to California where she attended University of California’s Berkeley School of Law. “I once lobbied to save the Department of Rehabilitation in Louisiana. So it seemed like the right move. And Berkeley’s law school had someone devoted to helping students like me get accommodation so I could succeed.”

During and after law school, Sara clerked for Disability Rights California, who advocate, educate, investigate and litigate to advance and protect the rights of Californians with disabilities. She continued to be frustrated by the job market and was referred to the LightHouse Employment Immersion program by her then DOR counselor, Rosa Gomez. “Well first of all, the program got me out of the house – it re-invigorated me to look for work again. Like most people, I was sure I already knew how to find a job, but I learned that there was so much more to it: networking, LinkedIn, how to build a good resume. We had a good group of about 15 people. Even though we all came from different backgrounds with different education levels and goals, we were all going through the same thing.”

After completing the Employment Immersion session, Sara volunteered her time helping Employment Immersion program leader Kate Williams and this led to a temporary paid position with the LightHouse. Kate spoke fondly of her, saying, “Sara is extremely bright, has a strong willingness to help and an intuitive grasp of what is needed on the job.”

It was through the LightHouse that the opportunity for a job with the Department of Labor came up. Said Kate, “Due to the warm relationship we have with the Department of Labor, we were able to steer Sara to apply for the job she has now, and she took extra care to make sure her resume honored the requirements of that particular job. That got her the interview. I’m so very proud of what she’s accomplished.”

In February Sara began working for the Department of Labor as a secretary for the Deputy Regional Director of the Pacific Region of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Program. She has a variety of responsibilities, including typing documents, answering phones, copying, scanning and other computer work. She is also involved in tracking the furlough days connected with the recent government sequester. And she’s been able to incorporate some of her legal skills by doing analysis of a settlement agreement.

So hats off to Sara Hadsell, who walked the employment walk while helping others in our Employment Immersion program do the same.

Are you looking for a job and need that extra little push to get that interview or take your resume to the next level so it rises to the top of the pile? Follow Sara’s lead and join us for the next session of the 2013 Employment Immersion Program which begins Tuesday, May 28 at the LightHouse’s office at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley. For more information, call Kate Williams at 415-694-7324 or email her at kwilliams@lighthouse-sf.org.