What is Discovery, and How Can It Help Your Career?

By Sara Porcaro | Sep 29, 2021
PCSEPP, BHDDH, Employment, Opportunity, IDD, Disabilities, Rhode Island, ADA, Empower, Equality
Rob at Local Farms

"So, what do you want to do for a living?"
For the many professionals looking for where to begin or change their career, the search for what one wants to do can seem never-ending. There's a list of possibilities a mile long--different subjects, different industries, different methods of work like freelancing and self-employment--and even for the most ambitious of us, finding the right path can be a long and daunting process. But in this process, where often the level of education, possibilities for growth, and financial security are the top things to think about, there's something that is all too easily overlooked: how well a career path actually matches a person, from their daily routine to their interests and hobbies. That's why in the Person Centered Supported Employment Performance Program (PCSEPP), which aims to help individuals with disabilities find customized work in their communities, that piece comes front and center with the Discovery process.
PCSEPP, a program funded by the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Health, Hospitals, and Developmental Disabilities (BHDDH), is one that brings together the talents of agencies and organizations across the nation. Perspectives, AccessPoint RI, and the J. Arthur Trudeau Memorial Center support participants through the entire employment process, with Skills for Rhode Island's Future, Able Opportunities, Inc., and the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMASS Boston providing the necessary connections, tools, resources, and trainings to help participants learn about networking, using technological accommodations, and more. Within the Discovery process, employment professionals from each agency are able to spend several sessions with participants to learn more about them as a person--including the environment they live in, how they like to start their day, their favorite activities and personal goals, their communication styles, and other pieces that make up who they are as people.
"[Discovery] is the foundation of a successful job search," says Career Developer Brittany Dorrance. "It's especially helpful for participants who maybe can't verbalize what they want, or who isn't sure what they're looking for. It's helped me get to know even some individuals I've already worked with on a way deeper level, and whatever we discover together, we can test out to enhance skills and see if it matches."
And in combination with the technology PCSEPP introduces to participants, such as iPads that offer new ways for individuals to find, demonstrate, and show what things interest them with pictures and videos, it's a process that works for everyone. With Discovery, participants find something different than traditional employment models offer. Rather than assessments and evaluations of individuals' skills or previous work experience, this process offers a way for participants to be themselves and let who they are guide their future work experiences. It's an integral part of PCSEPP, with no right or wrong way to complete it, as Discovery isn't a process to decide whether an individual "can" or "can't work," especially in a pre-designed job description, but one where a job is tailor-made to the services individuals have to offer. The doors this practice opens are incredible, and they remind us that everyone has unique skills that can bring value to their communities.
One example is PCSEPP participant Rob, who works with Brittany on the Discovery process, and while together, would always rip grass up from wherever they were sitting, whether out in the yard, at the park, or elsewhere. It's just something he enjoyed doing, even at previous work experiences in landscaping, and after observing him while working together to figure out potential job opportunities and informational interviews with employers, decided to see where that one detail about Rob could go. What she found was, in fact, a list of potential opportunities--including keeping the memorial grounds tidy at his local American Legion and trying out the work on local farms to keep fields clear and weed-free.
"Sometimes it's the little things that can make the biggest difference," Brittany explains. "The more you know a person, and their habits, routines, and interests, the more you can think outside the box and find new opportunities you may have never considered before."
The Discovery process doesn't end with PCSEPP, either. Brittany represented Perspectives in the Rhode Island Governor's Coaching Corps, where she and peers from different industries discussed how to help struggling Rhode Islanders find their footing financially and in the job market. One thing Brittany noticed was that, where Transitional School Services (TSS) are offered by agencies like Perspectives and help individuals bridge the gap between school and work life, no such thing exists as a standard practice. When it comes to helping students find out what they want to do as they leave high school, there are some supports--undeclared majors, internships, career fairs--but with Discovery, these tools can be taken a step further with hands-on workshops, trial periods, and more.
"Discovery seems so basic that we don't even pay it any mind," Brittany notes. "But the reality is that this process is something that is vital to finding that next step. I wish we could train everyone on the Discovery process, so those who work at agencies like Perspectives could use it, and so that everyone could go through the steps with themselves to think outside the box and find new opportunities they didn't see before."
When it comes to finding the career we're willing to dedicate our skills and ambitions to--and especially when it comes to finding the community, opportunities, and enrichment those careers can offer--there's no such thing as knowing yourself too well. The Discovery process is not just step one, but an ongoing piece of the employment puzzle, and it's another tool our employment professionals use to help participants get the most out of PCSEPP.
If you or someone you know is looking to get started on your dream career with a program like this, or are looking to meet potential team members who can bring unique skills to your business, reach out to the Perspectives' Employment Team at employmentservices@perspectivescorporation.comor call (401) 294-3990.


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