Josh: Using an AmeriCorps Experience to Begin a New Career

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Background

After Josh graduated from high school, he decided to gain additional experience as an AmeriCorps volunteer. Like many young people, he had tried various jobs in high school, but still wasn't sure what kind of job he really wanted. His time with AmeriCorps helped him take the next step toward a career. In fact, Josh has opened his own business as a result of knowledge and experience he gained in AmeriCorps.

What's Important

AmeriCorps members work as part of a team during a year long commitment to address community needs. Members receive benefits including a living allowance and health coverage during their year of service and an AmeriCorps Education Award of up to $5,550 when they complete their service year. For his AmeriCorps service, Josh worked at the Center for Dubuque History in Dubuque, Iowa. His task there was archival work. First, he used a computer scanner to scan in historical documents. Then, he made databases so that people could search for and find the documents they wanted. Josh excelled at and enjoyed this work. He continued to volunteer at the center for a time after his AmeriCorps work ended.

After talking through the idea with his dad--his key support person--Josh decided that he could start his own business, Mammoth Scanning. With the help of vocational rehabilitation funds, he set up a website and began marketing his archival computer services. He and his dad came up with a business plan. Josh created the company tagline, "Where the Past is Present."

Currently, Josh has had three large projects from clients. He and his dad are looking at how to grow the business. They may start archiving people's family photos, not just historical documents. Working with photos could be a nice fit for Josh's skills and the business. So Josh and his dad have begun to make plans for promoting this new service.

What Happened

Josh now works full time for his own company, Mammoth Scanning. He is very satisfied and excited about his work. When given an assignment, "I follow through," says Josh. "I really like my work."

Exploring various jobs during high school helped Josh learn what he did and did not like. For example, he did not enjoy working in retail and stocking shelves because those jobs were too noisy. His scanning work is done in a quieter environment that allows him to focus.

Josh's story also shows the process of a developing a career. Josh wasn't sure what he wanted to do professionally when he started his AmeriCorps service. But he found himself enjoying the archival work he did through AmeriCorps, and wanting to continue it.

Lessons Learned

Like anyone else, people with disabilities can have a career path, guided by their own experiences and interests. Be open to learning from all types of experiences. Josh's story exemplifies what is possible if people with disabilities can explore work through a structured opportunity like an AmeriCorps program. Family support can play a crucial role in success. Josh's dad serves as a support to Josh, especially on business decisions. This team approach seems to be working well as they are looking at ways to expand the business.

For more information, contact:
Alyson Beytien (beytien@mchsi.com)