I am the Department of Labor: Verlencia Somuah Advocates for Employees with Disabilities.

Evmark Business Solutions

In our “I Am DOL” series, we are featuring employees from various roles at the Department of Labor who all share a passion for public service. Verlencia Somuah, a policy advisor in the Office of Disability Employment Policy, is currently on detail in the Office of the Secretary and serves on a team that manages the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN). Through EARN, employers learn how to accommodate workers with disabilities and create a more inclusive and accessible workplace for all. We spoke with Verlencia to learn more about her career path and her thoughts on public service.

Q: What does public service mean to you?

A: Public service means being able to work for and with people with disabilities on a larger scale than I ever thought possible. As the Department of Labor serves America’s workforce, I am able to make a meaningful impact in the lives of individuals with disabilities.

Q: Were there any events or life experiences that helped prepare you for this role?

A: Being diagnosed with my vision disability at 14 kickstarted my passion for working with people with disabilities. I tailored my education and work experience towards this goal, and my graduate program provided me with both the education and work experience I needed. I also interned at ODEP through the Workforce Recruitment Program, which led to a full-time federal position at ODEP.

Q: How would you describe your experiences in getting the role you wanted?

A: I wrote my personal statement on how we can better include people with disabilities in the workforce and how the intersection of race and disability impacts individuals. I also made sure to tailor my education, activities, and work experience towards my career goals. ODEP’s mission to create more opportunities for America’s workforce with disabilities aligns with my personal goals, and I am passionate about seeing more people with disabilities in high-level and high-paying roles.

Q: What would you say to others about bringing your whole self to work at the Labor Department?

A: A good team will make you feel at home. I am fortunate to have a supportive team that allows me to show up every day and do my best work without fear of not being accepted. It is important to bring your whole self to work and be proud of who you are.

Q: What else do you want people to know about federal employment or applying to federal jobs?

A: Many people think that federal employment means staying in the same job for 20 years, but that is not the case. There are opportunities for growth and advancement within the federal government, and I encourage others to consider applying for federal jobs. 

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