Work defines our self-image, our role in the community, and how others view us. When asked about ourselves, we often say, “I am a carpenter, teacher, accountant, etc.”
Managing your career is important as you plan your future whether you have a disability or not. If you’re living and working with MS, there are others factors to consider.
Keys to helping manage your career, explore and understand your options include:
- Flexibility and creativity to adapt how you do your job.
- Willingness to seek accommodations.
- Interest in changing the type of work you do, if necessary.
- Openness to additional training or education.
No one is saying that these decisions are easy. The decision is yours and yours alone — you know yourself and your situation better than anyone else. Be clear with yourself about your options and take the best path for you. Be informed about your ADA rights and workplace accommodations, deciding to work or not, employment strategies, symptom management on the job, and information to share with your employer.
One way to look at employment issues and career transitions is to picture them along a continuum. It must be emphasized that people do not always fit neatly into this continuum. They can go back and forth from working full-time to part-time and vice versa. In addition, the need for accommodations changes over time as well. But this reflects the various steps that people with MS may experience while working with MS.
Making a career change can be complex and time consuming. However, it can lead to finding rewarding work. For most people there is more than one career alternative. Choices and priorities must be based on an assessment of skills, interests, values, strengths and opportunities.
Self assessments can be a helpful tool to you when thinking about changing careers. They can help you identify your interests, discover your personality, determine your personal and work values, and identify your transferable skills.
Take advantage of personal coaching programs where they are offered, such as in the Career One Stop unemployment centers or other local resources including the YMCA, YWCA, Vocational Career Centers, and Community Colleges Career Centers.
A variety of resources are available to assist you in changing careers
, finding a new employer (some employers seek to hire people who bring diversity of all kinds
— including disability — to their workforces) starting your own business
, or pursuing work at home opportunities