MegaConference Offers Job Fair, Networking, and News for Those with Disabilities

     About the Author

Frank at DDH 2016-cropped[1]

Frank Meeuwis holds a Master in Science in Social Work degree from the University of Tennessee and is the Director of Quality Assurance and Systems Change at The Arc Tennessee. He lives just outside Nashville with his wife and two sons. Frank’s mobility and dexterity is impaired following a traumatic brain injury when he was 18.

By Frank Meeuwis

Hi, my name is Frank Meeuwis, and I am in my 10th year of living and working in Middle Tennessee. Each summer, following 11 months of meetings, scheduling and rescheduling, planning and arranging, phoning, faxing and emailing, followed by more meetings, a swirl of activity, excitement, technology, smells, and sounds engulfs the Nashville Airport Marriott Hotel—the single largest stand-alone Conference in the Southeast specific to all issues of disability! That is the Disability MegaConference, happening May 26-27.

To each person there, the most valuable experience offered is, in a word, opportunity! This annual collaboration of The Arc Tennessee, the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, and Disability Rights Tennessee (Tennessee’s Protection & Advocacy Agency) in partnership with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities and the UT Boling Center UCEDD includes the support and participation of our federal and state departments, and our community of providers and organizations, our professionals, teachers and administrators, and our friends, family, and neighbors, too! With many, hundreds of people converging at the Disability MegaConference to share, learn, and explore, the opportunities for job seekers are immeasurable! And for family members, this is an opportunity to meet adults with disabilities who are employed and can share insights about their journey.

If you have never been, these few things are just the tip of the iceberg of opportunity you may enjoy:

1. Reuniting with old friends
2. Making new friends
3. Updating old contacts
4. Making new contacts
5. Networking
6. Learning and growing
7. Discussing positions with employers
8. Spreading your message and personal mission!

In fact, the MegaConference has been such a hotbed for connecting employers with job seekers that this year’s Conference is again kicking off with an exclusive job fair for people with disabilities! The Middle Tennessee Society for Human Resource Management, in partnership with TennesseeWorks, will hold the second annual CapABILITY Career EXPO on Wednesday, May 25, from 2:00 – 5:30 p.m. The CapABILITY Career EXPO will bring together about 40 companies in Middle Tennessee—all looking to hire people with disabilities and eagerly wanting to meet with prospective applicants to talk about job openings and career development. (There will even be a Tennessee Department of Labor Career Coach, a mobile center with services similar to what you might find in a Tennessee American Job Center, available prior to and during the event to allow job seekers an opportunity to access career counselors and computer technology for the job seeking/application process.) If you are interested in the Career EXPO, the event is free, but you need to register here.

So, whether you come in the afternoon of May 25 to the CapABILITY Career Expo, or to the MegaConference on May 26 and 27, you may want to kick yourself if you are one of the nearly three-quarter-million Tennesseans with disabilities looking for more work AND NOT at the Nashville Airport Marriott during the last week in May!

Check out www.tndisabilitymegaconference.org to get additional information, including the schedule of events. Sessions include information about housing, voting, the new Employment and Community First CHOICES waiver program, health care, education, and, of course, employment. Online registration is now closed, but walk-in registrations are welcome on May 26th and 27th.

Having seen who has come to the MegaConference before and who has left with a new job, I suggest that you hurry and make plans to come, and show everyone your abilities, skills, talents, experience, and your never-say-die can-do attitude!

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