by Detra Bannister

"Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love." -- David McCullough

Are you looking to connect with other people with vision loss about career education or exploration? Would you like to share tips on finding job leads, getting hired or succeeding at your job? What about finding a mentor to journey with you as you decide on a career path or educational goal? Maybe you would like a place to discuss the technology you need to get your job done. If you answered yes to any of these questions, AFB CareerConnect is for you.

AFB CareerConnect is a free resource for people who want to learn about the range and diversity of jobs performed by adults who are blind or visually impaired throughout the United States and Canada. Whether you are a student exploring careers, a job seeker investigating work options, an employer planning to diversify your workforce, a professional working with visually impaired people, or a friend or family member assisting someone who is blind or has low vision, this web site can help you.

The CareerConnect site has general information about the United States labor market in a completely accessible format that will help you determine which jobs are hot and which are not. You can link directly from the home page to a search option that allows you to explore careers by occupational category, interest area, and by keyword or job title. However, before you start your career exploration, you may want to check out the Tips for Career Exploration document that is listed under the Job Seeker option on the menu bar; this will help you determine which jobs you would be best at and enjoy most.

In addition, CareerConnect houses a database of successfully employed blind and visually impaired adults who are willing to discuss their work lives and how they perform their day-to-day work responsibilities with or without accommodations. To search for a mentor, you can link directly from the home page, and narrow your search by city, state or province, country, key word, affiliation or mentor identification number. In the near future, the search tool will be simplified to a Google-like search. One thing to keep in mind is you don't need to fill in every edit box in the search tool because the more specific criteria you enter, the fewer matches you will find.

Also on the site, you will find many firsthand accounts from nurses, a judge, an audiologist, campus service worker, TV host, a project manager, a sales representative, and many interesting others telling how these mentors found and succeeded at their jobs. Each quarter a new story is posted.

Becoming a registered CareerConnect user is easy and free, and allows you to build or edit a Personal Data Sheet or resume, maintain an electronic calendar, or correspond with a mentor using the web site to maintain confidentiality. And if you are someone with vision loss who is successfully employed, and want to share your experiences with others, consider becoming a CareerConnect Mentor. It is uncomplicated and undemanding, yet incredibly rewarding.

The site offers so many resources. Check out the menu options on the right side of the CareerConnect home page to see all of your choices. But don't stop there! At the bottom of the home page, you will find a section called Headline News that includes the latest opportunities and information available. CareerConnect also welcomes your feedback, so don't hesitate to contact the program staff at 1-888-824-2184 or via e-mail, [email protected].

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