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Gen Z graduates are ideal for careers supporting people with disabilities

July 9, 2019
Direct Support Professional with Client

Over the last few weeks, we’ve celebrated thousands of student graduates. We hope many will consider one of the most rewarding, professional careers possible – that of a direct support professional and working for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

We know that Gen Zers are driven by purpose, passion and impact. They need human interaction, though they enjoy working independently. They are diverse. All that’s a great fit for a career in direct support.

Our DSPs receive high-quality, intensive training that prepares and qualifies them for challenging work. Certifications are required for professional demands and expectations.

Yet we know that some still view DSPs with less understanding of the work as a career. It may be considered as “caregiving” or a “labor of love” rather than meaningful work requiring skills and training.

Granted, some DSP candidates may want the experience for only a few years while they continue their education, often in a related field like occupational therapy or education. But in our experience, we find many with the intention to remain in the direct support profession. It is rewarding, varied, ever challenging, and has opportunity.

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities lead lives across Maryland that require a range of services. Some may require a DSPs diligence to careful administration of medicine, assistance in doctor’s appointments, and more physical support.

Others need help to learn job skills and gain employment themselves, or they look to their DSPs so they can be involved in social activities with their friends, such as dinner and a movie.

Take for example, Aliza, a DSP for The Arc Central Chesapeake Region (The Arc CCR), a nonprofit committed to providing people with IDD the opportunity to gain independence.

What’s special about the people Aliza works with is they are close in age and that’s enjoyable to her.

With more than 19 percent of adults in Maryland with disabilities, organizations like The Arc CCR are always looking for new talent with knowledge of the community and an eagerness to work in a rewarding career.

As our region’s graduates explore career opportunities, we hope that they will consider learning more about becoming a direct support professional. The hours are flexible, with opportunities to work part time or full time, and schedules that range from morning, evening or weekends.

For more information about the profession please visit

Jonathon Rondeau is the CEO of The ARC Central Chesapeake Region. Contract him at


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