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Connecticut HIV/AIDS Employment Resource Guide
This guide has been created so that people living with HIV/AIDS in Connecticut who want to consider going to work or pursuing a better job can learn about resources and strategies that can help with the process.
There are many different programs and agencies described in this guide. Three state agencies are among the most valuable to learn about and understand:
- American Job Centers provides a range of career guidance and job placement services to everyone, including people living with HIV/AIDS or other disabilities in 20 offices across Connecticut.
- The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS) provides assistance to people living with disabilities to prepare for, find and keep employment, with 15 offices across the state.
- The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) oversees a network of recovery-oriented employment and educational services.
Ideally, as you begin moving toward getting a new job, you can take some time with this information to really consider:
- What kinds of jobs and employers would (or would not) be the best match for you?
- What jobs are likely to be available?
- Which strategies and resources may be more likely to help you get hired for, and be successful in, the jobs you decide to pursue?
Here are some questions to determine the best next steps for yourself:
What job goal would be best for me to pursue?
- Talk about this with people who know and care about you (such as friends, family, counselors, case managers, teachers, health care providers). Take what you learn from doing this to the next step.
- Take the opportunity to participate in activities and tests that help highlight and clarify your employment-related preferences, skills, abilities, values, and other information that can help you chart the best course for employment for yourself. Take what you learn from doing this to the next step.
- Connect with the employment and vocational rehabilitation programs (American Job Centers, BRS, DMHAS) that can help you learn about, select and prepare for succeeding with the job goal that you choose to pursue. Before or while you take steps to choose your job goal, include the next step in your progress.
If I need training or education for work, what could be available in Connecticut for me?
- You may be eligible for assistance with the training and education you need for employment through American Job Centers or BRS – find out what may be available to you.
- Learn about the wealth of programs available through Connecticut’s community colleges and universities. Click here for information about Education and Training.
What would be good to know about how work would or would not affect my benefits (financial, medical, housing, etc.)?
- Learn about and plan for any changes and opportunities to maintain your current benefits (financial, housing and health care), so that a change to employment works well for you. Click here for information about Connect To Work and other resources for Benefits Information and Assistance.
What resources should I know about if I’m ready for a job search now?
- Learn about where to access job search preparation and assistance services
- Find out about online resources to help you navigate your job search
- Become informed about legal rights, protections and responsibilities in the job search and on the job
- Reviewing your job search checklist
What if I’m not ready to go to work, but would like to be involved in productive activities that may help me go to work in the future?
You may discover activities that you ARE ready for and interested in may actually help to strengthen your position for when you may determine that you are ready to pursue goals for work in the future:
- Consider volunteer opportunities as skill and network development
- Learn about internships and apprenticeships
- Explore adult education, GED, and ESL programs
- Take advantage of resources available for you to evaluate and learn more about your individual preferences, skills, abilities, values, and other information that can help you plan the future activities, training/education and any career goals (short-term or long-term) that you would like to build toward – every step can move you forward!
Let’s look at one scenario for how a person living with HIV/AIDS could get started and move forward toward employment:
- Start out by visiting your local American Job Centers office. Request to be screened for your eligibility for not only core services (available to everyone), but also for intensive services (available to some, based on income). Don’t be shy about asking for the help you need to benefits from the resources!
- The programs, resources, information and assistance available through American Job Centers can be a tremendous foundation for moving forward toward work effectively. Many people will benefit from accessing the individualized assistance and additional resources that may be available through the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS). Submit your application for services with BRS and continue participating in the activities available to you at American Job Centers. You can access tremendously valuable evaluation and self-exploration resources and assistance at American Job Centers that can be extremely helpful to lead you into the jobs that you may especially like and do well in, including some you might not have thought about originally. The information that can come out of evaluation can also be a strong support for your requests for assistance with a job goal that you have learned is a good match for you. Keep copies of everything!
- Your connection to BRS will start with an eligibility period, before services are planned and begin. The smart person realizes that it may be entirely worth it to fully learn about and participate in all of the valuable and unique services and resources that BRS can provide to you. During the BRS eligibility period, before services begin, focus on the resources available to you during that time from the American Job Centers programs. Particularly jump on all career guidance and evaluation services you can participate in – these will be powerful backup as you define the specific job goals you want to pursue (and request assistance to achieve). Don’t hesitate to ask to speak with a American Job Centers staff person who can help make sure you’re aware of all that may be useful to you.
- Both American Job Centers and BRS offer information and access for many people to a wide range of training and education programs and resources. When you arrive, explain that you are new there, and ask how you can get a full tour or overview of the services that are available. Many people become much stronger in their job search when they progress with their education and build needed job skills. Now may be the time in your life to move to the next level – obtaining your GED, improving your spoken and written English, getting specific job training and certifications, or completing associates, bachelors or graduate levels degree programs. Open up the potential for more and better opportunities in the future. Set career goals for yourself, and plan to not just survive, but to thrive!