WASHINGTON — Job hunting can be stressful for high school and college seniors. It can be even more so for people with disabilities.
That’s one of the reasons why the Army has teamed up with Gallaudet University, a bilingual, diverse and multicultural institution for the deaf and hard of hearing, for their job fair on Feb. 22 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the I. King Jordan Student Academic Center.
“I think [job fairs] are really important because deaf people like face-to-face contact,” said Christy Bowers-Brimmer, human resources specialist with Army Civilian Career Management Activity and Gallaudet University alum. “We like to see people in person and have that physical connection.”
Bowers-Brimmer knows firsthand the struggle students with disabilities face as they head into the job market. She was born deaf and does not use any assisted hearing devices. Her parents are also deaf, and she grew up using sign language.
After graduating with her master’s degree in 2014, she faced a challenging environment. Many of the hiring managers had uncomfortable views on prospective employees with disabilities and didn’t want to take the time or make the commitment to hire her.
“It’s really important to have a hiring manager who is an advocate and supports people with disabilities,” she said.
Her perseverance paid off when she took a position with Washington Headquarters Services as a human resources specialist in the diversity, disability and recruitment division. There she received a 2017 Secretary of Defense award for her work with the WHS internship and fellowship program.
After a few years, she decided she wanted to bring her knowledge and expertise to a military organization. The process was not without its challenges. However, thanks to her supervisor, she was able to start her Army career in 2021.
“I’m really thankful for him,” she explained. “He was an advocate and a champion. He did everything to make sure that I had reasonable accommodations.”
The Army hired a full-time staff interpreter to support her and other deaf employees. Now, she’s able to help others by getting emerging leaders into fellowship programs.
“It’s an honor to be able to support our military department,” she said. “I really enjoy working with such brilliant talent. They contribute a lot to the Army.”
Acquiring highly qualified talent from diverse backgrounds is a priority for the Army. During the upcoming Gallaudet University job fair recruiters will the chance to hire students that bring a lot to the table.
“People with disabilities have so much potential, just like other people,” Bowers-Brimmer said. “We have talent, and we come with so much experience of growing and navigating life with different challenges.”
The Army offers a wide variety of jobs, benefits and competitive salaries for civilian employees at locations around the world. People with disabilities can be hired to federal positions non-competitively through a process called Schedule A. Potential employees may also apply through the traditional or competitive process.