Helping Provide Self-Awareness and Self-Advocacy with The Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency

By - April 15, 2021

Megon Steele's job as a Vocational Assessment Services Manager with the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency is to help individuals figure out what jobs best suit their needs, create goals based on those jobs, and then come up with several training options that will help them reach the goals that will bring them sustainable career success.    

Megon works at Roosevelt Warm Springs, a nationally registered historic landmark founded in 1927 by Franklin Roosevelt to treat people inflicted with polio. Today, Roosevelt Warm Springs is a residential campus operated by the GRVA, whose mission is to empower individuals with disabilities to achieve personal independence and employment success. While at Warm Springs, students learn life skills, work towards professional certifications, and gain work experience to prepare for today's job market. 

While growing the vocational assessment services department for the past six years, Megon's focus is to help individuals attending the Warm Springs program determine their career goals and training paths to achieve those goals. Megon considers it a success when a student exits her program with a plan of action. 

While the typical timeline for a student to complete their time at Roosevelt Warm Springs is 9-12 months, depending on their goals and where they are when they begin, Megon often has groups for a much shorter duration, sometimes six weeks if it's a group. Sometimes it's just a week if it's an individual coming to see if Roosevelt Warm Springs is a good match for them. Megon also oversees an eight-week program for individuals completing online modules. She needs solutions that work for all these scenarios.  

The Department of Vocational Assessment works to identify each student's strengths and conditions for success. Because of their disabilities, many of these individuals need accommodations to do their best work. Students should ask themselves how they learn best. What makes them anxious? What environment are they most comfortable in? What are their triggers? Megon works with students to help to develop their self-awareness. This skill empowers them to become their own best advocates. Traditionally, this had been accomplished with various assessment activities followed by career exploration and then a layering of those components to see how they work in tandem. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced Roosevelt Warm Springs to transition to a remote learning model, Megon's staff worked to develop materials to provide students with the same services they'd been providing them in person. They created videos to talk about the different topics they cover, produced a hardcopy booklet to send home for those who respond best to hard copies, but ultimately faced the challenge of giving their clients engaging job exploration options without the hands-on guidance they're usually able to offer. helped bridge that gap. Megon and her staff can now provide their students the same services they provided in person without worrying about location. It doesn't matter if they're learning remotely, as they're currently doing, or if in-person services resume. can provide a constant across contingencies. Megon stressed how helpful it is that students don't risk losing momentum. She said the main complaint she's heard from students during these unprecedented times is that they can't wait to get back on campus, but while that's not yet a possibility, is enabling them to move forward.   

Megon and her staff have transitioned to using the interest inventories to help students start their self-awareness journey. They use the results to help begin the goal-planning process. Students begin to explore various career paths with the Career Central video library. They use the provided labor market information to see what steps would be necessary to reach their career goals.   

Megon said the labor market information and the integrated job listings are especially helpful, even though the students she's serving aren't ready to search for jobs just yet.  It helps with that piece of the journey where students layer their interests, necessary accommodations, and best environments for success. Is a job a good fit if there aren't any openings where a student lives and they don't want to move? Do the hours and location fall into the environment that will make them successful? Do they want to spend as much time in school as a specific career warrants?  

There's a reason emphasizes marrying your passion to your priorities. It's that balancing act that propels individuals to sustainable career success. 

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