Career Spotlight Dr. Tara Lewis

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Career Spotlight: Dr. Tara Lewis talks career coaching and navigating the interview process

By Kari Storm

Dr. Tara Lewis, certified career coach and member of the Moebius syndrome community, has a passion for helping people find jobs.

Tara has a Certified Career Transition Coach Certificate and a Designing Your Life Certificate, along with an EdD in Higher Education Leadership and M.Ed In Student Development Administration.

She works with people who are trying to figure out their career or transitioning careers. Her professional career coaching experience has included mostly working with college students and academic advising and career coaching. 

Tara is currently working on a grant that’s helping IT and cyber security students prepare for and connect with opportunities in the field. She developed an online course for them to go through. There are different modules where they can take assessments and do self-reflection, looking at their values and skills. There are also modules on how to write a resume and how to use LinkedIn.

She helps with other aspects of the job search process, like writing cover letters. She gives interviewing tips and conducts mock interviews. She invites employers to come in and speak with students, so they are hearing from industry and making connections. 

Tara said she decided to go into career coaching because she realized when she was in grad school that she really enjoyed working one-on-one with people, but she wasn’t sure in what capacity. 

When she was an undergrad, she went into career counseling as a student because she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life. The career counseling really helped her and made her think about going into the career counseling field.

Tara was offered a position in the career center, and she really enjoyed it. She liked the creativity of having different tools to help students navigate the career development process.

She then started helping her friends find jobs and enjoyed that as well. 

Tara presents at different conferences about career related topics, Moebius syndrome, ableism, and disability. She has presented at two Moebius Syndrome Conferences, discussing figuring out your major and career path. 

She said for people with Moebius, the hardest part of the career journey would probably be the interview process.

What modality your interview is in can make a difference (whether it’s a phone, video call, or in person interview). Tara recommends advocating for yourself and asking for a different modality for an interview if you need one. 

Also, she said there is more AI that is going to try to read facial expressions, tone of voice and pattern of speech during an interview. So, there is discussion out there about that creating bias. 

As for whether or not people with Moebius should disclose (talk about having Moebius) during the interview, Tara said that it is a personal choice. If you do want to disclose, she suggests emphasizing that Moebius has no effect on your cognitive abilities or your ability to do the job. Briefly explain what Moebius is and refocus on why you’re a good fit and what value you’re going to bring. 

If you want to let the employer know about Moebius before the interview, Tara recommends getting in touch with the Human Resources department, or if you are comfortable, just contacting the hiring manager directly. 

Tara advises employers to listen to the words of the person with Moebius, and the content of what is being said. 

If people with Moebius have speech difficulties and want to address that in an interview, she suggests letting the interviewer know you have a good answer and are trying to communicate it, but that you have a little trouble with your speech. 

She recommends people with Moebius consider their body language in an interview, such as having an open body position, using hand gestures, and leaning in to convey interest. 

Tara said finding a job and the interview process are common fears for people with Moebius. She encourages them to confront the anxiety and go for it. 

She also wanted to remind college students in particular to use their career center as a resource for navigating their career journeys.

Tara said disability wasn’t really talked about or acknowledged culturally when she was younger, so she didn’t want to identify as being disabled. Now, she said identifying as being disabled has been helpful for her because she can better educate employers about Moebius and disability. 

Tara is a member of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARWCC), and Women in Cybersecurity (WiCys). 

NACE has a disability series each year they do virtually, where they have discussed how to make the disclosure process easier for people. 

As a member of the PARWCC task force, she was able to speak to PARWCC on using AI with clients.

Tara was recently interviewed for the Early Careers Unlocked podcast, where she discussed networking tips for students. 

She and Kathleen Bogart, another member of the Moebius Syndrome community, co-wrote articles on Psychology Today about how employers can create equitable interviews for candidates and advice for people with facial differences facing job interviews.  

Tara is looking to branch out and do coaching on her own. She said she would love to work more with people in the Moebius community, so if you are interested in her services, feel free to email her at Tnlewis13@gmail.com.