Choosing Whether to Work

Getting work experience is a great idea. It lets you earn money, make new friends, and feel satisfied that you are contributing to society. You can get a job in addition to getting more education or you could pursue another option that gives you work and life experience, such as joining the military, traveling to another country, doing volunteer work, or finding another way to fulfill your interests.

There are many factors that can help you decide whether you want to look for a job now. These are some things to consider:

  • The independence a job would give you
  • The money you would make
  • The impact of working on your benefits
  • Whether getting a job now will help you reach your long-term goals

Independent Living

A major key to being able to make your own decisions and live independently is having the money you need to afford your choices. Perhaps the biggest reason to get a job is that once you are earning your own money, you'll truly be able to begin leading your own life. Independent living means you decide how you want to live your life; you get to choose how you spend your time, who your friends are, and where you live.

Work also lets you meet new friends, see new places, and learn new things, which are also keys to independent living. You’ll participate as part of a team and have responsibilities. The independence that work gives you will give you more ways you can decide to spend your time, and more chances to join in the day-to-day activities of your community.

Independent living does not mean that you have to know all the answers or do everything by yourself; it means that you need to learn how to find resources that can help you reach your goals. You also need to learn to be in charge of how you use these resources.

Finances

Money is usually a factor in choosing what you want to do. For example, if you got a lot of student loans to go to college and have just graduated, you need to make sure that you repay them. Other things you might need money for include rent, a car, or everyday expenses like food.

If you or your family has enough money that you don't need a job to pay for immediate expenses, you can still decide to get a job. Or you can consider other options like going back to school, doing an internship, or volunteering. Education and internships are discussed in detail in Getting a Higher Education, while volunteering is discussed later in this article.

AmeriCorps

Public service programs are another option that let you do good work and get great job experience. One example is AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps programs let you repay your education loans by doing a public service project for one year, such as working at an afterschool program for children or building homes in low-income communities. AmeriCorps also provides health insurance and pays you a stipend that covers your living expenses.

AmeriCorps programs can be a great place to start your career because they give you real responsibility and teach valuable skills.Visit ServeMinnesota to learn more about how to do AmeriCorps in Minnesota.

Impact on Benefits

A lot of people who get disability benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medical Assistance (MA) worry that if they get a job they'll lose their benefits and won't be able to afford to pay for their expenses or their medical treatment. It’s true that getting a job could impact your benefits, but that should not stop you from getting a job!

After getting a job, you’ll have more money than before and will still have health coverage. And if you lose your job, you'll have the option of getting back on benefits. How to report your job income to benefits agencies and how your income will impact your benefits is explained in Young People – Working.

Reaching Your Long-Term Goals

There are many different long-term goals you might have. Your goal might be simply to make enough money to live independently or to save for your future. Or you might want to meet new people or travel. Working can be a great way to make progress on all of your goals in life.

You should also have a long-term career goal. Having a clearly stated goal means you can take the appropriate steps to achieve it. If getting a job helps you advance in the pursuit of your long-term goal, then now is the time to find a job.

However, many careers require that you get higher education first. For example, if you want to become a teacher, you'll need to get a college degree, so going to college first may be a better choice. Of course, you may want to work some so that you can earn money to pay for college. Educational options and how to pay for them are discussed more in Getting a Higher Education.