Tips for finding a summer job for youth with an intellectual disability. Inclusion Alberta.

Tips for finding a summer job for youth with an intellectual disability

July 14, 2023

As the summer months roll in, many youth participate in summer activities such as summer camps and community-based events. These activities can be an excellent way for kids and younger teens to enjoy their summers and connect with friends. At a certain point,  many youth begin to feel ‘too old’ for summer camps and aspire for a more ‘teenage’ way to spend their time. This is no different for youth with intellectual disabilities! Enter: The Summer Job.

Many teenagers and young adults find their first job during the summertime. A summer job can empower youth to increase their knowledge and skills, build confidence, and develop genuine connections and relationships with their co-workers. It also brings a sense of increased accountability, responsibility, and time management. It can build confidence that carries over to other facets of their school and community life. For many youth, it is an expectation that around 15 or 16, they start their employment journey. This expectation must hold true for youth with intellectual disabilities as well.

Paid employment for youth with intellectual disabilities is one of the most critical factors in gaining meaningful employment as adults. Employment empowers youth, allowing them to be more self-sufficient, more confident, and have a stronger sense of who they are. Good jobs are where we often find a sense of purpose, contribute to society, and develop meaningful friendships and connections, not to mention the thrill of a paycheque!

It is important for teens with intellectual disabilities who have a job do real work for real pay, and not fall into the ‘volunteer trap’. Volunteering is an important part of contributing to community, but everyone can work.

How do I help my family member find a job?

Commonly held job search techniques and processes adopted and accepted as ‘best practice’ are equally acceptable and effective for people with intellectual disabilities. A few things we all do in trying to find jobs for ourselves or others include:

  • Exploring connections through our friends and family. If most of us remember our first jobs, they were often made by a connection through our parents, siblings, or neighbours. These are all great places to start.
  • Looking at our own networks or communities we are connected to.
  • Exploring the places and spaces you frequently spend time at.

Our Youth Employment Partnership staff are happy to help map out who you might know and help with the ‘ask’.

What the Youth Employment Partnership can offer

The Youth Employment Partnership supports youth with intellectual disabilities to get and sustain meaningful employment through engaging with youth and families, peer mentors and employers.

The initiative supports youth and families in finding and sustaining employment by empowering families to get clear about their vision and see the possibilities and necessity of youth employment. We support families in connecting with their networks and local communities to find employment, and are there for both families and employers to help sustain the employment when needed. Supports are provided through all stages of employment from onboarding, training and continued on-job support. Youth mentors work to support youth on-site at their jobs and eventually fade out their support to encourage independent employment. But even when direct support is no longer required, the Youth Employment Coordinator is always available to support the youth, family, and employer.

The Youth Employment Partnership also prioritizes and supports youth in fostering strong relationships and building community.  Another crucial element of the youth mentor’s role is facilitating relationships between the youth and their colleagues.

Families of youth with an intellectual disability in the Edmonton and Calgary areas do not have to approach their job search alone. Inclusion Alberta’s Youth Employment Partnership can offer the support needed for success, and our services are always offered free of charge. To learn more about the Youth Employment Partnership, contact us at 1-800-252-7556 or