5 Things All Youth Leaving School Should Be Able to Say About their Work Readiness

Every young person leaving school wants to have a job or go to college.

Nationally we are in state of  youth employment crises. The situation is so complex, it isn’t just one variable. Yet one approach may give youth the leverage they need for employment, the personal and social capability training to adapt through adversity.

5 Things All Youth Leaving School Should Be Able to Say About their Work Readiness

1. I found it isn’t important to dwell on what I don’t have (my limitations) but to see what I  can do with what I have (exploring strengths, from an expansive approach).

2. I explored, reflected, and discovered my strengths for my best career options. I learned to see how certain careers are a good match to my strengths and interests.

3. I learned about my challenges and the tools I can use to keep me focused, on track, and adaptable to change.

4. Using Reflective Practice, I  took part in a group setting on how to face workplace adversity and discovered I always have options that I can choose for next steps in self-advocacy.

5. I learned about my own self-awareness and why self-awareness is important to getting hired,  to keeping a job, to adapt socially, to have safety and well-being, and to move toward future goals. 

Learning and practicing self-awareness and self-advocacy is not only important to the student, but this groundwork is also important to employers who want to recruit people with skills they need.

What Employers Want

Employers want to hire youth with skills in personal and social awareness to include empathy, ability to work with others, and integrity.

Employers want more support in getting young people “work-ready”.  Nearly nine in 10 employers feel that school leavers are not ready for work. They claim, youth often lack work experience in  communication and teamwork skills.  Employers express that youth don’t know how to behave professionally in a work environment. 

According to John Irons, managing director for global markets with the Rockefeller Foundation, employers are asking for assistance in recruitment, assessment, and support to address entry-level talent challenges and to improve employment outcomes for those facing barriers to workplace, such as diverse populations and disability

Give every student the leverage they need for employment success by offering self-awareness development and self-advocacy practice, so  the gap to the youth employment crises narrows.

Click here to get Your Starter Kit

What Gets Between Youth and Their Employment Potential?

After decades of teaching youth with learning disabilities and researching what youth with autism spectrum need to make better work adaptations, Dr. Jackie Marquette discovered what it takes to help youth rise to employment. The keys are guiding youth to see their skills and interests from a wide range of strengths, personalized supports,  training in social emotional awareness development, and plenty of experiences. These are the keys to all youth making adaptations. She has an adult son with autism and has walked the walk, with ups and downs, failure and successes. Trent had employment at Meijer, a retail store for 13 years with innovative supports and for 19 years Trent has created abstract paintings for his art business. Yet many youth with disabilities, autism spectrum, and youth from urban and rural areas fall short in getting employed because they lack opportunity to identify their skills and prepare for personal/social awareness and self-advocacy.  Very few educators, counselors and employment professionals understand why or how to prevent it.

Click here to get Your Starter Kit

Dr. Jackie Marquette is the founder of the Transition Career Academy teaching online courses and face-to-face workshops. Her trainings are approved for 6 CE’s by CRCC. She has been endorsed by highly recognized colleagues in the disability field for skills in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Training, and Research. Her extensive experiences span teaching students with learning/developmental disabilities and ‘at risk’, spearheading autism community workplace projects, implementing school district transition programs, consulting and using her own tools, one-to-one with youth seeking employment through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. She researched and interviewed over 800 youth with autism and their advocates, professionals, family members. As the CEO of S.A.F.E.T.Y. Works© DBA Marquette Index, LLC, her program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders, employers, and youth with their advocates to enhance their performance to make a meaningful difference in schools, companies, and the lives of persons with Autism Spectrum/disabilities.

Thank you for reading my blog. Let me know how I may assist you.

Making Career Development a ‘Work of Art’ | For All Youth Including Autism and ‘At Risk’ |Dr. Jackie M. Marquette

Youth with Social Emotional Challenges Pic 1 (pixabay.com)

Many students and adults who have social and emotional challenges  such as, autism, do want to work and certainly have the capability to perform well on jobs that match their strengths.

Yet preparing youth for a career or job isn’t an exact science. Rather, I see it more as an art form, because an employment design is so personalized. Consider these areas: a. identifying a strengths and matching these to an environment, b. structure, and c. people in the workplace (acceptance), and tools for communication and adaptation. Integrating all these to meet the student requires a creative approach, which I see as a ‘work of art’. Just as creating a sculpture or painting on canvas is a ‘work of art’ so is the design of supports that personally meet a person’s needs to perform on the job.

When students take part in career and college readiness programs, the goals are set to assist students to get into a job, career, or college. Yet these programs are not enough to assist students with social and emotional challenges, thus, the programs are incomplete. For example, it is no longer sufficient to place youth in jobs or careers based upon their capability to merely do a task. When considering the criteria to choose a student as a client for a career development program, educators and counselors must be cautious on how they accept students. Criteria for program entry should not be based upon a student’s cognitive functioning, test scores/academic success, independent levels, or behavior. These criteria do not serve youth well, because these factors are incomplete to meeting students’ needs to emotionally adapt.

Rather, it is crucial to design programs that emphasize individualized plans with supports and tools that help the student gain preparation, a. self-awareness, b. self-advocacy training, c. the negotiation of a daily routine to manage on-the-job capabilities, and d. team collaboration with coworkers. A creative design with these elements becomes the rich groundwork which can lead to a student’s experience of job satisfaction and where adaptation can unfold and blossom.

I discovered when youth receive preparation for career readiness through the lens of an design of an art form, it can make a positive difference to student capability and adaptation over time. I offer eleven employment design processes that get youth involved creatively and committed to their life and career possibilities.

  1. When students are guided and supported to deeply explore career pathways, they are eagerly taking part in curiosity and the art of imagining possible work options that may become a good match to their interests and strengths.
  2. When students experience job try outs, they are in the art and practice of discovering tasks they like or don’t like, experiencing environments that appeal to them or not, identifying settings they enjoy and find overall self-satisfaction,all within exposure to multiple workplace environments. 
  3. When students make mistakes or have emotional set backs within their career search, they are in the act of experiencing and with guidance reflecting about the effects of their choice-making. 
  4. When youth feel acceptance with assistance to identify personalized supports to move through challenges, they are involved in the process of choosing and implementing. This is the art of building self-awareness, self-determination, and self-advocacy. 
  5. When students learn and practice basic self-regulation skills, they are making personal choices to create favorable outcomes for themselves, thus, choice-making
  6. When students listen to suggestions or advice from people who see the best in them or from those who have their back, they are taking part in creating their life through accepting connections and mentorship.
  7. When students make a decision about a job or career choice they are creating a vision of how they see themselves in future careers. This is a work-of- art in self-awareness development.
  8. When students take small brave steps forward into their chosen life direction, they are becoming more self-aware through creating the moments of each day.
  9. When students are aware of the power of their own choices, they are pursuing the art of self-determination. 
  10. When students become aware of their problems and must seek out a solution, they are practicing the act of speaking up for themselves. This is true even when youth rely upon a tool or another person to speak up with them. This is the practice and art of self-advocacy.
  11. When students fall down (and they will) and with support and guidance they stand up wounded or scarred, this is artful living. 

Artful living requires artful choice-making. All students should take part in this early career preparation and career development.

Every choice a student makes has an impact, regardless if the circumstance is small or highly important. A student’s progress is created in the moments of choice-making. We must teach students how choice-making is tied so closely to their self-emotional awareness because awareness impacts capability and adaptability. This is artful career preparation in action and S.A.F.E.T.Y Works.


SAFETY WORKS PIC 2 (pixabay.com)

S.A.F.E.T.Y Works(c) (words on image)

S  A recognition of a unique set of strengths and challenges

A  Self-advocacy training fostering emotional self-   

    awareness and

E  Environment exposure with predictability

T  Transforming

Y  Young adults to emotional adaptation, i.e., favorable 

    outcomes employment or college.

THIS ONLINE COURSE for PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT is for teachers, counselors, employment specialists, other professionals

If you need….transition and career implementation training for certification or CEU”s for your career, then take this course. How to Engage Youth to Discover their Dream Career and Adapt. 

Click link to see curriculum and registration https://www.drjackiemarquette.com/courses/

Save $50.00 Discount

Use Coupon Code: backtoschool50off    good through October 15

This course has been approved by the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification

Receive 6 CEU’s


Pic 3 (image by Jackie Marquette)

Pic 3: How to Engage Youth o Discover Dream Careers and Adapt (words on image)

-7 Mini-Modules of about 3 hours total viewing time.

-6 downloadable Templates

-2 Assessment Tools, the online Strengths and Career Index© and downloadable  & The Alternative Self-Awareness Assessment© (ASAA). Downloadable

-The Golden Wheel©, & The Predictability and Engagement Timeline©

-Completion: A Student Checklist, A downloadable

-Downloadable Course Workbook (107 pgs)


End Note:

I believe I bring something unique to the career and adulthood readiness table for youth with Autism Spectrum and Social and Emotional Challenges. This work is based upon my research in which I created an expansivestrengths based approach with user-friendly tools to support students interests, emotional self-awareness, and self-advocacy. I call this model SAFETY Works©.

In my research, I listened to the voices of hundreds of persons with autism, their advocate/parents and professionals who worked with these students. I wanted to learn how they searched to find meaning within their lives and discovered or created resources to reach goals and adapt. I used the data to create user-friendly tools to help guide young adults to have their right job/career, training/college, and/or to live both independently andinterdependently.

In my personal experience with my autistic son supporting and guiding him, I learned to listen. Over the years, he taught me how to support his self-determination, self-advocacy and adaptation. He personally experienced many trials and errors with set backs and progress. It hasn’t been a walk in a rose garden, but with supports he walked his own journey and has been a professional practicing accomplished abstract artist now for 17 years.

The tools I offer in S.A.F.E.T.Y Works came out of my work and my life’s experiences and I want to pass them to people with autism their advocates and the professionals who work with them.

LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jackiemarquettephd/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/drJackiemarquette1/



GET FREE STUFF and updates by Jackie


Thank you for taking time to read my article.

Work Readiness for Students with Autism  Spectrum, Developmental Disabilities, and ‘At Risk’: A Professional Resource Checklist

Work Readiness for Students with Autism  Spectrum, Developmental Disabilities, and ‘At Risk’: A Professional Resource Checklist

Check each one that applies.

1. My student/clients can often see good job/career possibilities for themselves. ___________

2. My student/clients generally rely upon people (natural) supports in the workplace in order to adjust or adapt to their job.  ___________

3. My student/clients generally have challenging behaviors which makes it difficult to identify an appropriate job match.___________

4. Most of my student/clients need structure in order to perform on their job. ___________

5. My student/clients often show a lack of motivation or inspiration to do what it takes to get hired or to keep their job. ___________

6. My student/clients often lack effective ways to speak up for themselves. ___________

7. Most of my student/clients can name 3-5 interests or strengths they see in themselves. ___________

8. I see my student/clients abilities and strengths, but these aren’t an easy match to jobs/careers they can do. ___________

9. Most of my student/clients have a desire to get a job or to go to college. ___________

10. My student/clients have shown anxiety and/or have melt downs in one or more of the following: a. learning a new task, b. working around unfamiliar people, c. in new settings, d. or when changes suddenly occur on the job site. ___________

11. My student/clients usually know the kind of job they want and can do. ___________

12. Many of my student/clients place high demands of ‘independence’ or ‘do it myself’ attitudes in which they have a difficult time measuring up to. ___________

13. Though my student/clients exhibit challenges, they rely on people around them to believe in their abilities and strengths. ___________

If you checked 2 or more of  these numbers 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12  – your students could benefit from S.A.F.E.T.Y. WORKS (c)

I would love to share several tools with you to use with students in your Career Readiness Programs. These tools with curriculum can provide increased insight and clarity in preparing your student/client for Career Readiness/College, Job Development, and Job Maintenance. 



Here is a Free Gift  I want to offer your student/client with Autism Spectrum. Students:

Fun Free Quiz–How well do you know the value of your strengths?

Thank you for reading my blog.


End Note:

I believe I have  something unique to bring to the Career and College Readiness table for youth with Autism Spectrum and Developmental Disabilities. This blog represents a strengths model to support personal preferences and emotional needs, known as SAFETY Works©.

In my research, I listened to the voices of hundreds individuals with autism and their advocate/parents about how they found meaning and how they wanted to live their lives. Over three decades of study and experience, I used the data to create these tools to help people facilitate getting the right job, pursue college, and/or to live interdependently. With personal experience, I have a an adult son with autism who has become an accomplished artist.  He taught me how to support his self-determination, self-advocacy and adaptation. We personally experienced many trials and errors with set backs and progress. I want to pass these tools to people with autism and their advocates to create and live their adult lives their unique way.

Please offer your comments, because I want to hear them. I spend a lot of time writing. If you like my blog and think it can help other people, please share it.

Again thank you for reading blog.


Facing the Fear of Uncertainty


Mary is a delightful 19 year old woman who has autism. Now that she has graduated high school, she has tremendous fear that is preventing her from pursuing a career goal. Her days are filled with hiding in her room drawing and reading. Although she feels safe there, she really doesn’t like hiding in her room all day.

She had overwhelming fear about entering the community. Unexpected occurrences, sensory output from the environment was painful to her ears. What’s more, she feared interactions with unfamiliar people. She dreaded shopping trips because the idea of responding to a clerk or someone else was too much to handle.

Mary has a talent of drawing people’s faces. The detail is amazing. Many of her family members have her art exhibited in their homes. Despite the obstacles, Mary has a deep desire to pursue her talent.

With the Strengths and Career Index, she discovered all her strengths: talent in arts, personal preferences, and self-emotional awareness that altogether can support her talent. She learned about  tech tools that meet her personal preferences, reduces her anxiety, and brings ease to her life. Today Mary is in college and developing her talent.  She has increased her adaptability, has more positive experiences and a greater life satisfaction.

Do you have fears that hold you back from a job or a career?


Do you, or someone you know with autism or challenges (a student, client, or loved one)  have  fears?  Are they consuming  you? or Are they consuming the individual you know?

Try this activity to sort through fears.

List the fear(s)________________________________________________



Is the fear real (for example, if you pet a barking angry dog, you might get bit.) Write about the bad thing that will happen if you face your fear.





Is your fear unreal? (for example, the outcome may leave you to be uncomfortable for a moment, wait a while, or tolerate someone briefly). Write about the uncomfortable thing or feeling you might have to face. The fear may not be damaging or harmful, but may cause you to be  uncomfortable.




If you have a fear in entering settings, do these things:

  1. Reach out to someone to help you sort through your fears.
  2. Take the Strengths and Career Index to reveal strengths and personal preferences that can support you to feel safe and overcome obstacles.


Don’t Miss Out: Seven Necessary Aims to Effective Employment for Youth and Adults with Autism

In preparing autistic youth through school transition, they need practice, exposure, and experiences. Many need guidance to:

a) discover how their personal interests may match certain jobs or career,

b) practice independent living skills at home and in the community,

c) numerous ways to recognize their strengths and how their strengths match jobs or careers and,

d)  have exposure to work settings that match their strengths and interests. While each one of these are important, together they make up the necessary parts of career readiness curriculum. Unfortunately, schools rarely include these as part of student career readiness.

What are we dealing with today? Harsh realities stare at us revealing many are left unprepared for post high school transition or a job and are left sitting at home. Only 19.3 percent of people with disabilities participate in the labor force.

Yet in a survey people with disabilities said they want to work.

When these young adults are left without work opportunities they  they experience a low quality of life. When these young adults have a  low quality of daily life they experience a  low sense of well-being. This can be devastating because when the individual internalizes these low emotions, low self worth deepens. I call this “focused imperfection overload.”  These are unnecessary outcomes and reflective of a collective failed system. Post high school transition can be chaotic with abrupt changes that are difficult for a student to manage.

Yet there is ray of light. I discovered from the data that emerged from my own research along with a life time journey with my autistic son there are seven aspects that can open up possibilities and lead to opportunities for the young adult. With exposure to strengths and interests it is a must to include: self-awareness, self-expression, collaboration, self-advocacy, self-empowerment, adaptation, and self-satisfaction. These aspects are often missing from student school transition planning and services. But when these aspects become part of a focused curriculum in career readiness, the preparation can transfer the student into increased ease and adaptation to employment or higher daily living. The 7 aspects explained:

1. Self-awareness – When students feel safe and have access to support tools their predictability is enhanced. Thus, they are more likely to learn how to tune into their physical needs and emotions. Feeling safe with predictability can have significant impact on their continued interest and willingness to learn and participate on tasks and interests.

2. Self-expression – The student can be guided to understand true-self feelings, thoughts or ideas. With encouragement to communicate, students exhibit their own style verbally, writing, art, music, or dance.

3. Collaboration – Students benefit in working with others in shared interests or a goal.

4. Self-advocacy – When students are guided in developing self awareness and speaking up for themselves, they are participating on their own well-being.

5. Self-empowerment – Students can be guided to understand their strengths and challenges. It is about finding their own voice to set goals and to make choices.

6. Adaptation – When students are supported to make choices and take action to handle change, growth is more likely to occur.

7. Self-satisfaction – This one is given very little attention. Students are supported and guided to experience contentment, taking pleasure in learning participating in work tasks, or creating art. The purpose here is to find experiences rewarding.

In conclusion, students are more prepared for the workplace when these seven aspects are supported early during school transition  employment development or college services. These aspects matter as much as having specific interest or skills for employment. Most importantly, autistic people have incredible talents, strengths, and abilities. “Strengths are anchors to career success and one’s contributions to the world. Strengths are opened windows to creating life satisfaction.”  Power Practices

To find out more: link

contact Dr. Jackie Marquette
Image came from Pixabay


Introducing ‘Power Practices’

I am happy and relieved to finally share my new student workbook “Power Practices”. Power Practices Workbook is a curriculum that guides a student through #career exploration with activities that will capture students’ career interests. The latter half of the workbook engages students with real life situations they may encounter during school and on the job. These activities allow the student to safely explore self awareness personally and socially. School personnel and employment specialists will find this to be a valuable tool for career readiness and school transition. Parents will find relief during school transition and post high school transition.  I wrote it to be engaging for students and young adults who want a job they like or a career path to pursue. Much more to come! Power Practices Available on Amazon

Sing your song

“Sing your song, turn your interests into fulfilling experiences, live the life of your own and one that you own.”

Dr. Jackie Marquette

Marquette Index, LLC.

Creator of the Marquette Strengths and Career Index 

Research | Consultant | Speaker | 4 time veteran of adult transition (39 year son with autism)

502 417-6063