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Finding a Job: Measuring Your Interests and Aptitude
We make choices throughout our lives based on our likes and dislikes. This includes the kind of work we do. Job choices are based on our personal preferences, interests, and aptitude. Your aptitude is what you are able to do and what you can learn to do. People naturally gravitate to those things we like to do, and usually those are the things we are better at.
Sometimes our interests are readily apparent, sometimes they are less clear. There are ways of investigating and learning what an individual's interests may be and how those interests might relate to a job interest area. These are sometimes called aptitude tests or interest inventories. Often these are scales of self-determination. This means learning about yourself: your interests, preferences, work style, etc.
Most often these inventories are conducted when an individual is still in high school. If interests and priorities still need to be reconsidered after high school, agencies including the Department of Rehabilitation, also known as Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), perform this function. They will help translate the results of these "evaluations" into work. In some areas, there are age limits on who can utilize OVR services; make sure to check with your local OVR office to see if you qualify.
Another way to determine interest is through experience. Individuals may have the opportunity to experience different types of work by "job sampling." Job sampling is interning and volunteering at different work sites. It's like trying the job to see if you like the work before making a commitment to do the job. Most often, job sampling occurs while the individual is still receiving special education services, during the "transition period" in high school. In the adult world, many local Offices of Vocational Rehabilitation offer this option, as do other agencies funded by OVR.