Hi there! My name is Joe Maysky and I’m the #IWantToWork campaign’s new Social Media Manager. I have cerebral palsy and graduated from West Chester University of Pennsylvania in 2014 with a B.A. in Sociology, minors in Spanish, and Women’s and Gender Studies. In my first blog post for #IWantToWork, I’d like to introduce myself, discuss my background that led me to joining the campaign, my uphill battle toward finding competitive, integrated employment, and what I hope to learn from my new role and contribute to the campaign.
1. Why did you want to join the campaign?
In college, I studied Sociology and gender identity. I researched everyday interactions; it really helped me to see how one-on-one experiences helped empower people. I also focused on how society shapes our lives and change can be achieved through advocacy and activism. The #IWantToWork campaign seemed like the perfect way to continue pursuing my interests while gaining professional experience. I am excited to contribute to real change for fellow Pennsylvanians with disabilities so they can gain competitive, integrated employment.
2. What is your advocacy experience?
At West Chester University, I spent three years as an officer of a student governing body of West Chester’s Off Campus and Commuter Association. During that time, I had the opportunity to meet with high ranking administrators both at the university and in the West Chester Borough. This helped me develop my voice as an advocate. We represented over half of the student body and worked on campus and with borough relations which often overlapped with local issues.
During my senior year, I worked as a Career Ambassador, a student peer educator for West Chester’s Career Development Center. There, I helped students develop their resume, write cover letters and work on their interview skills. We also taught workshops for student organizations and other peer educators who requested them. This gave me my first taste of helping all students develop their skills for future employment as well as a passion for teaching, both one-on-one and with groups. I hope to CONTINUE developing these skills in my role with the #IWantToWork campaign.
3. Why is employment important to you and the disability movement?
Despite helping fellow students prepare for employment, I didn’t get a job. No amount of resume or interviewing skills would have helped me. I faced several obstacles: a health condition that has now been remedied, challenges with transportation, my power chair needed constant repair, and I was unable to leave home independently. I was also discouraged by entry level clerical and administrative positions that listed minimum requirements such as driving and lifting 50 pounds.
The #IWantToWork position allows me to work at home and at my own pace, while I wait for a new wheelchair. In the future, I would like to reach out to my former employer to talk about how they can educate college students with disabilities to ask for accommodations and advocate for the job they want – despite things that might seem intimidating or unreachable in a job description.
It’s a true honor to be an advocate for fellow Pennsylvanians with disabilities and to receive an employment opportunity in the still growing field of professional social media. It’s exciting to be part of new remote working opportunities that fit many people with disabilities in jobs that weren’t available 5 or 10 years ago, let alone when the ADA was passed in 1990.
4. What are you hoping to accomplish?
I hope to become familiar with the latest research on competitive, integrated employment in Pennsylvania and beyond, and to be able to share this through the #IWantToWork social media channels. In my short time with the campaign, I’ve learned there are more opportunities for employment and new laws are expanding options. That makes me excited, given the challenges I faced trying to find employment. I am also excited to develop my social media skills for potential career opportunities and to grow them for #IWantToWork.
5. What are some of your hobbies and interests?
I am creative. I write personal essays – a few of which led to my offer to join the campaign. I also write songs and poetry and occasionally dabble in visual art. I like to attend concerts or other live performances and enjoy spending time with friends and family.
Want to stay in touch with me and the #IWantToWork campaign? Join our social media community on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.