Name: Cody Bowman
Hometown: Venice, Florida
Employer: Easter Seals of Southwest Florida
Length of time at current job: Three years
What is the best advice or encouragement you’d give to a fellow self-advocate about accessing or keeping employment?
Be Confident! I had a job coach tell me once, "You can do any job you want!"and she's right. I feel like the most positive job interviews I've been on were ones where I went in and I was myself. I was confident in my abilities to do the work and I let them know.
What’s the most important employment-related challenge you face as a person with a disability?
I feel like employers judge me and see the chair instead of the person IN the chair so they don’t even give me a chance. That hinders my ability to gain the meaningful experience I need to be ascend the employment ladder.
How should we be advocating for better employment opportunities and practices in Florida?
For starters, I think we need more employment specialists. I'm lucky enough to have a wonderful job coach who has taught me everything that I know. However, I have noticed...especially where I live...there is a complete lack of knowledgeable and qualified employment specialists. If you are lucky enough to find a good one, like I have, they make great advocates for you and your skills & abilities. You need someone who is going to fight for you!
Which agency was the most helpful to you in accessing and maintaining employment?
I received supported employment services from The Loveland Center for five years but there is one person in particular that has helped me in accessing & maintaining employment. She has also taught me about the ins & outs of social security and my income limitations. Her name is Mary Roberts and she works at The Haven.
FSACentral would like to thank Cody Bowman for her thoughtful answers to our employment Q & A.