Carol Gulino is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor at the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC). Carol, who has spina bifida, began thinking about her career track at an early age. As one of six children growing up, Carol never thought of herself as a person with a disability and considered becoming a nurse. Then, as a college student when she sought vocational services from MRC to help her investigate career options, Carol was introduced to the concept of counseling and found an interest in the field.
As a psychology major she had the background, but not the necessary master’s degree required to become a vocational rehabilitation (VR ) counselor. Carol was working in a job that was more paperwork than people-oriented at the time, and continued to be encouraged by MRC staff to consider vocational rehabilitation counseling as a career. With their encouragement, Carol went back and received her master’s degree.
As an employee at MRC, Carol requires very few accommodations. She has a handicap placard for her vehicle, and requested a printer near her desk to allow her to access her printed materials with greater ease. With these minor modifications, Carol excels in her job and performs her job as does any other counselor.
Carol wanted to share her story to let people know that people with disabilities are just as productive as people without disabilities.
What advice would you give to others with a disability on the topic of employment?
“Believe in yourself! Some days I think: Yes, I have these issues and sometimes don’t even want to get out of bed – but everybody’s got something that is going on in their lives that is a struggle for them. You can’t give up.“
What advice would you give to employers considering hiring a person with a disability for the first time?
“Give somebody a chance. I was in a position right out of college where an employer turned me away because I had no experience. I said to them, ‘How do I get experience if no one is willing to hire me?’ Then they did! Don’t be afraid to hire someone, work with them and talk to them – the person knows what they are capable of.”