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Bridges Blog Series: Next Steps November, 2021

Next Steps November: Niche (Finding Yours)

It’s November, and the leaves aren’t the only things changing. We settled into the school routine, and the holiday season is gearing up. November is a great time to create bridges between our current realities and the futures we seek, so these are the topics we will explore this month:

  • November 2: Navigating (Your Future)
  • November 9: Networking
  • November 16: Niche (Finding Yours)
  • November 23: Note-taking
  • November 30: Nurturing (Yourself)

In this third installment of our “Next Steps November” series, we discuss how to find your “Niche” – your place in the world.

What is a Niche?

The OxfordLanguages/Google dictionary defines “niche” as “a comfortable or suitable position in life or employment.” More specifically, a “niche” is a situation or environment that “fits” a person’s skills, talents, and desires.

A niche tends to be highly individualized and geared toward a particular person, but there are many areas of a person’s life, and one can develop niches in more than one area of life.

Why Is It Important to Find My Niche?

Choice. Finding your niche is a result of you making choices that fit you, not necessarily following patterns set by others.

Up to now, most of your life, at least the life you remember, has been spent in school. Most of that time has been spent in classes you didn’t choose; they are classes everyone is taking. This starts to change when you get to choose electives in high school, and it keeps changing from there.

After high school, you will be in charge of more and more choices: further education versus employment, and what kind of education or employment you will pursue. These are very important decisions because they will help determine what you will do in your adult life.

You will almost certainly spend many more years working than you did as a student in school. It is worth spending some time now to decide where you want to spend your time as an adult.

How Do I Go About Finding My Niche?

As noted above, niches are very individualized, so it can be helpful to really examine what is special about you.

  • What do you like?
  • What do you like to do?
  • What would you like to be able to do (even if you cannot right now)?
  • What do you dislike, and why? Would you like it more if you could change it or your skills?

To explore these questions, it can be helpful to consider this question: “What If You Had a Magic Lamp?” With this magic lamp, you can wipe out current obstacles to your dreams. Begin without limits (disabilities, finances, etc.). Focus on your interests, your skills, your dreams. Don’t let “reality” encroach in just yet.

Next, explore WHY these are your dreams. Why do these activities sound good? What about the activity fills you with joy, with energy, with purpose?

Once I Have Found My Niche, What Do I Do Next?

Now, we can bring “reality” into the conversation. What are the current obstacles that separate you from your magic lamp dreams?

Skills

  • Do you need more skills to get there?
  • Do you know how to get those skills?

Finances

  • How can you get funding to get the skills you need?
  • If your magic lamp dream job doesn’t yet exist, how can you make it into a job, OR what kind of paying job can you do while pursuing your dream outside of work?

Disability concerns

  • Are there parts of your dream job that “require” physical traits you do not have and cannot change?
  • If yes, are there similar jobs that you COULD do. For example, current technology does not allow a blind person to perform neurosurgery, but blind individuals CAN pursue employment in the area of neurology, including in research, patient care, management, etc.

Make your dream come true

  • Many “jobs” that exist today didn’t exist 30, 20, or even ten years ago. Advances in technology and changes in lifestyle create new job opportunities. Today, there are jobs waiting to be filled in the areas of technological accessibility and cybersecurity. More and more, people are seeking help from talented chefs and other individuals who can share new ideas with them. Tap into your talents and remain ready to move with the times.
  • Turn your passion into profit: From micro-entrepreneurship (Etsy shops, Patreon accounts, etc.) to social media influencers, people are pursuing their passions and finding ways to make a living doing what they love to do.

Get more information

  • Don’t stop exploring. In every field, there are many jobs that might not be obvious from the outside. For example, a high percentage of law school graduates end up in non-attorney jobs, including business, non-profit, and education-related positions. “After the JD” Study Shows Many Leave Law Practice. These individuals still use the skills they learned in law school, but they are not practicing law in traditional ways. Talking with attorneys and individuals in other fields can help you understand what kinds of opportunities are out there.
  • Connect with potential mentors; check out last week’s Bridges Blog, Networking, for details.
  • Contact the Free Bridges Helpdesk; we are eager to help!

Contact us

Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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