Finding a Job

Choosing Whether to Work

Getting a job is a great option after you finish high school or college. It lets you earn money, make new friends, and feel satisfied that you are contributing to society. However, it isn't your only option. Getting more education is another option. You could also join the military, travel to another country, do volunteer work, or find another way to fulfill your interests.

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

  • The independence a job would give you
  • The money you would make
  • The impact that working would have 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 all keys to independent living. The independence that work gives you will allow you more options on how to spend your time and more opportunities 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.


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 DB101’s article on Getting a Higher Education, while volunteering is discussed later in this article.


One option for repaying college loans is AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps programs let you repay your 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 offers 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. To see some examples of the type of work being done in California by people working for AmeriCorps, click here.

Impact on Benefits

A lot of people who get disability benefits, like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medi-Cal, worry that if they get a job, they'll lose their benefits and won't be able to pay for their expenses or their medical treatments. 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 you 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 reach your goal. If getting a job helps you advance your long-term goal, then now is the time to find a job.

However, many careers require that you get a 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 so that you can earn money to pay for college. Educational options and how to pay for them are discussed more in DB101’s article on Getting a Higher Education.

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