Transitioning from College to Work

Download/Print Transitioning From College To Work Info Sheet

Transitioning from college to work is a process. Students must begin this process early and be able to transfer knowledge of their learning disability (LD) into the world of employment.

Students should consider the following:going to work

  • What do I think the impact of the LD will be on my job performance?
  • How or when should I disclose my LD?
  • Do I know the typical accommodations made in the workforce?
  • What kinds of social demands and interactions will I have?

Students must recognize the disability’s impact on career choices. Knowledge of the disability and how it affects work are critical to getting and keeping a job individuals like and do well in. In addition to clearly understanding the disability, students need to identify goals. They must analyze training and career goals in relation to their disability. What kind of tasks will the job include? What kind of interaction between job tasks and the disability will need to be determined? When answering these questions, the student should assess the work environment, the type and amount of co-worker or peer interaction, specific tasks or essential functions that must be performed, and how performance is evaluated.

The Laws that Govern Employment

Students should become familiar with laws that identify their rights to equal access and non-discrimination. They should understand the aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, which assure equal access and non-discrimination. It is not enough to only know their legal rights. Students must recognize how equal access applies to them individually, within a particular education, employment or community setting, and in relation to the disability. They need to ask themselves the following questions:

  • Is it necessary for me to disclose my disability in order to perform more efficiently?
  • To whom do I disclose?
  • How do I disclose?
  • When do I disclose?
  • How do I negotiate accommodations? And with whom?

Being able to describe the potential effect of the disability in relation to the work environment is central to successful employment. Individuals should know what accommodations might be needed (if any) in order to perform the required tasks or essential functions of the job.


  1. Develop a History of Work Experience. Look for opportunities to gain work experience. Some examples include:
    • Campus leadership opportunities (e.g., student government, mentoring programs, organization involvement, etc.)
    • Work-study positions on campus
    • Internships
    • Off-campus jobs (some may be listed in the college career center)
    • Summer jobs
    • Service learning opportunities
    • Volunteer positions with community-based organizations and/or religious affiliations
    • Job opportunities found through family and friends
  2. Understand the Job Culture.Every company or organization has its own unique culture. The job culture consists of company rules, values, and beliefs, which are widely held but often unspoken.
    • Observe co-workers, not only how they work, but also how they communicate and interact.
    • Know what is expected of employees.
  3. Determine Effective Job Accommodations. Match job tasks or essential functions with strengths and weaknesses to identify potential accommodations that will improve job performance. Accommodations that may be used in the workplace include:
    • Audio recorders (smart phone, smart pens, tablets, or other recording devices)
    • Audio materials (for review when needed)
    • Speech-to-text software or app
    • Text-to-speech software or app
    • Printed instructions
    • Demonstration of tasks/assignments (record video with smart phone or tablet for multiple playbacks as needed)
    • Diagrams to explain the process of an assigned task
    • Separate or quiet work space
    • Computer software (e.g., word prediction, grammar-check, templates, etc.)
    • Computer access with dual monitors
    • Color-coding of files, work assignments, etc.
    • Understanding how to use the software on the company’s computer. Take advantage of the Job Accommodations Network to explore workplace accommodations further.
  4. Identify and use a support system. Family, friends and co-workers are vital to successful employment. A support system can be a valuable asset through the entire transition process from college to work.
  5. Devise an Individual Employment approach.Individuals eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation Services (in some states also called Rehabilitation Services Administration, or RSA) can work with counselors to design an individualized plan addressing employment, assessments, and services related to employment. This may also include employment training.
  6. Develop job skills. Many workplaces will offer options for learning how to do the job. Some options to explore include:
    • Coaching/Mentoring
    • Internships
  7. Seek assistance. Here are a few of the many resources that are available:

Download/Print Transitioning From College To Work Info Sheet

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Feel free to leave a comment below regarding this article. If you have a specific question for LDA, please contact us directly.


  1. My daughter has had an IEP most of her life. She’s very intelligent, just processes differently, is very detailed and has trouble with pacing. She’s 19 and has found interest in the culinary field. Working in a kitchen requires a certain level of speed and accuracy and I want to help her be successful because I know that her disabilities is now causing some performance challenges. What are options for young adults who had IEPs in school?

  2. Janina castillo says

    My name is Janina. I have a learning disability and have struggled all my life with school work, math skills, my memory and the work place. I am 36 years old mom now and noticed the last 4 years my work experience has been horrible. I continue to be laid off or jobs dont work out for me. Its frustrating. On top of having a 2 year old son who has a disability himself. I am currently at a new job that requires multi tasking, being detail oriented and problem solving and I’m not understanding the training or task. Its embarassing and frustrating. When or how do I mention this to my employer’s? I didnt know if I should.please help.

  3. With costant right ups at work im recognizing more Memory loss
    I know im add .how am I protected..I m going on 18 yrs at work..but constant aly my bosses think im great in many ways..but also they say im a fu.. up im so checked out..and almost ready to just let them fire me..but then what?

    • Giovanni Sommers says

      Robin Olsen
      Hi im a student and also do part time work im 18 years old and i suffer from autism (low on spectrum)
      have you considered writing notes for your self such as notifications on a phone that will remind you 2 do things like a alarm clock almost? I’m writing a paper for my school about how to live with disability can u please email me about tricks you use to help u advance in life with your disabilitys

    • Gretchen Roach says

      Robin, first are you on any medications? If so, are they helping this situation? Or are they making you more dazed? Perhaps consult your doctor. A few things you can do besides is keep a small notebook on hand and habitually write down things, make it instinct and you will remember to do it and refer. This will require deligence. Or, another option is a recorder device that you make notes in…or your phone as a note….I am a special ed teacher and college prof…I also have memory issues. This is something I deal with daily. You can do it. They will see you and if they truly appreciate your good work they will be impressed. Good luck.


  1. […] Learn More about…Transitioning from College or Post-Secondary to Work with a Learning Disability […]

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.