Hi everyone, I’m excited to introduce you to a new project by author Jon Marin. His new book, “See Us” is being released soon and it addresses a crucial factor in the lives of young people who are blind and visually impaired – finding meaningful work. Currently, in the US, 70% of blind and visually impaired people do not work. This is due to a variety of factors including prejudice, ableism, education, training and more, and Jon addresses several huge obstacles in his work as the Program Director of The Career Discovery Project. We can learn a lot from him and his clients in his new book “See Us.”
Kim: Do you or someone close to you have a visual impairment?
Jon: I believe I’m low-vision. My older brother is legally blind.
Kim: Please tell us a bit about your education.
Jon: I went to Lavelle School for The Blind during my grade school years. I spent my middle school and high school years in public school. I graduated from college with a degree in English.
Kim: Please tell us a little bit about your current career, and your background.
Jon: I’m the Program Director for the Career Discovery Project. A year-round internship program that connects blind and visually impaired high school and college students with work experiences that relate to their career interests or college majors. I started off as a job coach for the visually impaired and was a paraprofessional in public schools.
Kim: What got you interested in career coaching and internships?
Jon: While I was in college I just needed a job. Job coaching seemed easy to get into so I applied and started working over the summers, during the school year I was a paraprofessional. Through that time I kept networking and making connections which got me to my current position as Program Director. Working for the blind and visually impaired was not my career goal. I wanted to be a physical therapist assistant. But I was really enjoying my work so I went with the flow.
Kim: What do you believe are the most important skills our children need to possess in order to be successful in both higher education and career?
Jon: Proper worksite behavior and knowing how to network. Carrying themselves appropriately at work, knowing how to professionally communicate with their supervisors and co-workers can get someone really far and noticed. Networking and collaborating are also important. Knowing the right people can help them find employment and other exciting opportunities that can boost their profile.
Kim: What do you think is the biggest hindrance to visually impaired people finding gainful employment?
Jon: Low self-esteem and a lack of social skills seems to really hold many people back. I’ve met some really bright students that wouldn’t keep their heads up when speaking or carried themselves as if they were sad all the time. This can be devastating during job interviews. Sometimes this starts at home when parents don’t let their children out into the world to explore and socialize.
Kim: Tell us about your new book. What is it about and how can we get it?
Jon: “See Us” is a photographic journey of 6 visually impaired young adults from New York City that are balancing their lives between work, home, and school. I got the idea from the students I’ve worked with over the years. Watching them grow and succeed while breaking down barriers was very inspiring so I wanted to share some of their stories. The book will be available through my website www.IAmJonMarin.com.
Kim: Thanks Jon! And to everyone reading this, be sure to follow us both on Instagram because we have a “See Us” e-book GIVEAWAY coming soon!