Have you thought about what you will do after high school? Do you want to work, or go on to higher education? This fact sheet explains the various programs and opportunities available to you as you make your transition from school to work.

What will happen after high school?

  • Do you want to work after you finish high school? You can start looking now! Working a part-time or volunteer job will help build skills you will use later. Experience helps you build skills for the future.
  • Think about what type of job you want. Understanding your skills and interests will help you figure out what might be a good job for you.
  • Activities at school, at home and in the community will help build your skills and increase your interests.

Transitioning Youth Programs

Transition programs can help with a successful adjustment from the school setting to work or higher education. Steps toward a successful transition are listed below:

  • Gather information about getting and keeping the job you want.
  • Seek out mentoring programs, internships, apprenticeships, or volunteer opportunities.
  • Develop a plan with your teachers, counselors, and/or parents and relatives, beginning when you are age 16.

If you are currently in high school, you should have an Individualized Educational Plan(IEP). It should include information about transition services you will need. If you become eligible for vocational rehabilitation services, you will complete an Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE – not to be confused this with an IEP). An IPE indicates employment goals, services needed to reach your goals, and who will provide and pay for those services. The IPE also explains how the services will be evaluated and when you and your team expect to reach your employment goals.

If you are transitioning to higher education, check out the National Clearinghouse on Postsecondary Education for Individuals with Disabilities (HEATH Resource Center). It provides information about educational support services, policies, procedures and adaptations as well as opportunities at vocational-technical schools and other postsecondary training facilities. For more information on transition plans, visit the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.

Internships, Apprenticeships and Mentors

Internships offer the opportunity for short-term training experience in the type of job that interests you. There are both paid and unpaid internships. You are not usually paid with student internships, and you might not get academic credit, but gaining experience helps. Internships help you learn the tasks of the job as well as what it is like to work at that business. You should expect to be evaluated regularly. Your school counselor and your its Career and Technical Education Center can help you locate internship opportunities.

Apprenticeship programs include education and training that can help you prepare for a variety of jobs. These programs are designed to provide opportunities to learn skills that might lead to full-time, regular employment. Apprenticeship programs have eligibility requirements, qualifications and selection procedures. Your school and your local One-Stop Career Center may be able to help you locate apprenticeships.

Mentors are adults who spend time with you and offer support, advice and friendship. Mentors can offer you new opportunities and teach you about different jobs. They can help you learn and practice the skills needed to be successful in life. For information on mentoring opportunities, visit the American Association of People with Disabilities.

Summer Jobs and Part-time Work

Summer jobs and part-time work offer valuable work experience. These types of jobs help you develop basic work-readiness skills and attitudes that employers say are important. Your school’s Career and Technical Education Center can help you in your search for summer and part-time work opportunities.

Social Security Work Incentives

Community Work Incentive Coordinators (CWIC) are good resources when thinking about work. A CWIC can explain the Social Security Administration (SSA) programs for which you might be eligible, and how earnings from work might affect your cash benefits. Ask about SSA’s Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWE), Blind Work Expenses (BWE), Plan to Achieve Self Support (PASS), and rules 1619(a) and 1619(b).

To meet with a CWIC contact the Hawaii Disability Rights Center.