Need mentoring suggestion for career guidance
September 12, 2007 10:31 AM   Subscribe

I am mentoring a person, who passed out of high school. He has learning disabilities. The learning disabilities are ADD (attention deficit disorder) and he cannot spell long words (dyslexia). As a result his interests in continuing education is less. However i think without some additional education you can't succeed in life. Can you please suggest some websites, which can help me to select a career for him, based on his interests. If you also know of any other good careers, based on the disabilities please let me know. He is in bay area , california. Any good colleges near by ? Any other general suggestions which might helpful, please share with me. This is my first mentoring voluntary assignment. The organization i work with told his grades are good enough to continue education, so that he can get a better paying job
posted by tom123 to Education (22 answers total)
While it's wonderful that you are helping this young person, it's a mistake to shoehorn him into a career based on his disabilities. People with ADD and dyslexia are able to do everything that people without those curses can do. They just have to learn how to handle them.
posted by bigmusic at 10:35 AM on September 12, 2007

Thanks....I agree...Can you pl. let me know, some websites
which help in choosing a career...Also if we choose that
career what are the job prospects, and growth prospects...

I need information on that.
posted by tom123 at 10:49 AM on September 12, 2007

i would question the line of logic that concludes that individuals who do not progress past a high school education are all doomed to be unsuccessful.

as for careerer suggestions what are his interests? on the surface, neither add or dyslexia should prevent him from pursing a career in his chosen field.
posted by phil at 10:52 AM on September 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

do any of his interests translate into a trade? does he like working with his hands? spelling aside, what are his strong suits intellectually?

focus on his strengths, not his disability. unless his ADD and dyslexia is very severe, i can't imagine these traits exclude him from that many occupations. drive is more important than spelling correctly.
posted by domino at 10:55 AM on September 12, 2007

arg, i can't type. my first sentence should have read.

i would question the line of logic that concludes that individuals who do not progress past a high school education are all doomed to be unsuccessful; it is uniformed at best.

on reread it comes across as kind of snarky. that was not my intent. it just seemes like flawed logic. there are plenty of successful individuals who did not attend college.
posted by phil at 10:55 AM on September 12, 2007

He says he wants to be a security guard, patrolling...I think
it does not have good prospects...

Also currently he is not interested in continuing beyond
high school. However i am trying to persuade him to continue high school.
posted by tom123 at 10:56 AM on September 12, 2007

Some people need to bumble along until they find their calling. I'm ADHD. I dropped out of high school. I had no interest in college, no interest in anything beyond the job at the pizza place I had.

17 years later, I have a rock solid 15 year long career in IT
He can do anything he wants. He just needs to realize that he's interested in something.

And you know what? If he's happy as a security guard, then he's happy.

I'm interested in how you came to be mentoring this person. I get the feeling that you think there are a rigid set of formulas that must be followed to achieve "success". Success is a very personal definition.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:06 AM on September 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

I was wondering the same thing, Cat Pie Hurts.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:17 AM on September 12, 2007

While there are umpteen studies out there showing that people with college degrees make more money, have more job security, etc., none of that will matter if he doesn't want to go; he will do badly if he does get in because he won't want to be there. Plenty of 18-year-olds aren't ready for college (I assume this is roughly how old he is); he might be ready in five years. Or not.

But if he's interested in being a security guard, you might get him interested in taking a criminal justice course or two at a local community college.
posted by rtha at 11:25 AM on September 12, 2007

I came to know the individual through a voluntary organization through which i applied. Sorry this is my first assignment...

Thanks for your inputs...It has been extremely useful...
posted by tom123 at 11:27 AM on September 12, 2007

A four-year liberal arts education is not necessary for everyone.

There are plenty of vocational schools that would help him make his way in the world; for instance, if he is interested in the security business he can look into attending something like California Security Training in Sacramento. That was the first Google hit I got, but I'm willing to bet that there are a ton of schools where he can learn the skills necessary to get a good job in security.

Most high schools offer career testing. If those aren't available to your mentee, you can opt for one of the many online resources, such as Career Key, a free online career aptitude test.

Additionally, you may want to re-evaluate your standards of what is best or necessary for this young man. His life path does not need to mirror yours in order for him to be successful and happy.
posted by brina at 11:31 AM on September 12, 2007

Contact a local vocational/technical college. They often have someone on staff who specializes in working with students who have learning disabilities. A year there, out of the whole high school hell-hole, could awaken previously unknown interests in your friend. A more traditional liberal arts education or other university work could come eventually.

It's probably too soon to worry much about a lifelong career.
posted by yesster at 11:38 AM on September 12, 2007

If the chap is interested in security officer - definitely start there. rtha above gave a wonderful suggestion of him taking a criminal justice course or two. Who knows where that will lead. Maybe it will lead to him being a security officer or maybe it will spark his interest beyond that and he'll go further.

Stick with what he's interested in. Just start there and don't scare him away with talk of 4-year colleges. Get him excited about what he already is leaning toward. Help him grasp that interest and see where it takes him.
posted by Sassyfras at 11:46 AM on September 12, 2007

Note: That Career Key link is a dud. They charge for their free tests. I checked out Project Career, which was free but full of ads. Anyway, there are plenty more career aptitude tests online.

You might impress upon your mentee that there are lots of places to go in security -- law enforcement is a prime example.
posted by brina at 11:48 AM on September 12, 2007

Read through the information here, the site for the UC Santa Cruz Disability Resource Center, as an example of how this works. You will find that many colleges provide ample compensatory benefits for kids with learning challenges, from proofreaders to transportation. This help might be something he doesn't know about, and might make college seem more within his reach to accomplish.

I agree that he may not need pushing, but developing a more accurate and complete view of his options would certainly benefit him.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:51 AM on September 12, 2007

Assuming that the person is under age 25, Job Corp ( could be a good option. It is a job training program where the students live on campus (there is one is San Jose, but many more nationally that he could chose from depending on what he wants to train in.) They do help non-grads get their GED, and I think extra help for people like your mentee. The atmosphere is kind of militaristic, with schedules, staying on campus, no drinking or drugs, but participants get a small stipend, medical insurance and live on campus with food provided. There is training in a wide variety of areas, and help with job placement. Most courses are about 2 years long. For someone who wants to get out in the field, with no loans, good training, this is a great program. (While those friends who went to 4 year colleges are working to pay off loans, he can be working on paying off a house or going on vacations to great places!)

wife of 445supermag
posted by 445supermag at 11:59 AM on September 12, 2007

Maybe check out apprenticeship programs? Apprenticing with a plumber/electrician/carpenter etc would set him up for a pretty good career, and wouldn't be "school".
posted by Kololo at 12:01 PM on September 12, 2007

For local colleges, check out City College of San Francisco, which has many many offerings in vocational careers, "liberal arts" courses, evening courses, etc., and is extremely affordable for residents.

For a career in security, here is labor dept. statistics. While you are there, check out information on other careers. He may decide that the median salary of $24,000 for a security guard is okay with him, or he may decide that he would like to aim for something with greater financial benefits. That's up to him to decide, according to his own values and expectations about what kind of a life he would like to live.

While it's important to assess what the young man's interests are, you should also assess what his strengths are, as well as what his values are. It's the combination of the three that make for a fulfilling and successful career. In order to assess all three, you need to sit down and have multiple long talks with him. Or, if you don't feel up to it, refer him to the career services office at CCSF, his high school, etc.
posted by jujube at 12:29 PM on September 12, 2007

I have a son with the same issues. He excels at visual, hands-on activities. If he read out loud to you, you might assume he is a bit mentally challenged but if you needed something mechanical figured out or fixed you'd think he's a genius. Don't know that the same would be true in your friends case but it's worth considering.
posted by Carbolic at 12:49 PM on September 12, 2007

i would start with his interests rather than his limitations--not to be namby-pamby about it, but his best bet for staying on track is to remain interested in it. i mean, he's at an age now where he's the one driving the bus--all you or anyone else can do is suggest an itinerary.

so, he wants to be a security officer. why not become a police officer? you need some college for that, so how about a criminal justice class or two?

seconding the above that you might want to get a catalogue for a local community college and look at courses there.
posted by thinkingwoman at 12:51 PM on September 12, 2007

Did he graduate from high school or not? You say he "passed out" but I'm not sure if that means he quit before graduating, or if it means he successfully completed high school.

Many jobs won't hire someone who has not completed high school. He should definitely finish high school if possible.

It might make sense for him to work for a few years, to see firsthand that he will want a better job, and then go back to school. I have a few friends who went this route -- at 18 they thought $20,000/yr sounded great, but once they were in their mid-20s they began to see that it wasn't enough to do all the things they want to do. Then they were able to succeed in college courses because they had seen for themselves that they needed them.

You could run some numbers with him (what are the rents like where he wants to live, what are the monthly living and car expenses like, does he want to be able to save or support a family, how much money should he have set aside for emergencies) to see what his target salary/wage should be. Then see if what kind of security jobs pay that wage in your area, and see if they require college or additional training. He may not know much about job benefits and how to choose a good job based on anything other than wages; you could probably help a lot by helping him think through those issues.

Also, call up your local community college and ask if they have admissions or career counselors you could set up an appointment with. They may have someone who knows a lot of the programs in your area.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:50 PM on September 12, 2007

There's lots of new educational programs which accommodate different learning styles (and disabilities) more readily. They may be listed as 'experiential education' or 'experiential learning' or 'community service learning'. He might assume that lots of options are not viable for him, when they may in fact open the doors to far more possibilities. Don't let him sell himself short in a dead end security guard job because he thinks that's all that's out there that he's capable of.
posted by kch at 8:10 PM on September 12, 2007

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