Jay Jasper was born and raised in Sacramento, California, like much of his family before him. As a compassionate individual, Jay found himself drawn to a life of service.
He graduated from Elk Grove High School and attended Saint Mary’s College of California. After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development, he sought additional direction and training at John F. Kennedy University, where he pursued a Master’s in Holistic Health Education. While in the degree program, he shifted to a Certificate in Conflict Resolution, a crucial asset in his career.
Initially, Jay worked for Wells Fargo Bank for 3 years as a licensed investment representative. Feeling unsatisfied in the financial sector, Jay Jasper applied to Turning Point Community Programs (TPCP), which is a large non-profit organization in Northern California that serves youth and adults with mental health disabilities. As a Transition Specialist, he worked with at-risk youth, ages 16 to 21 make successful transitions from high school to adult life and independence.
He was inspired to get a Master of Science degree in Career and School Counseling while working full time at TPCP. When a hiring freeze changed his plans, he worked for a year and a half at Citibank as a Client Financial Analyst. In 2005, he finally secured his first job at a public school working as a High School Counselor in Fairfield. A year later he was hired in the Elk Grove USD as a Transition Specialist. In 2010, Jay Jasper accepted a job as a High School Counselor at Pleasant Grove High School.
In 2018, Jay Jasper partnered with a small group of educators to transform a struggling continuation school in Placer County. He helped implement a new initiative called Big Picture Learning, which focused on student empowerment, identifying student needs, passions, and interests while offering the best possible education and resources.
Jay Jasper now provides vocational rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities. Jay takes a client centered approach in partnering with his clients, empowering them to have a leading role in their own plan for employment. He provides access to necessary resources required to obtain and retain employment. The most important service Jay offers is career guidance and counseling. He is passionate about helping others gain independence and reach their potential.
- What do you currently do at the Department of Rehabilitation?
I’m a Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor with the State of California’s Department of Rehabilitation, where I help adults with disabilities become employed. My client and I identify strategies to overcome their barriers to find gainful employment. Identification of an employment goal is imperative. With the goal in mind, I work with clients to develop steps and timelines towards achieving competitive integrated employment. In some cases, the client requires assistive technology, such as hearing aids or talk to text software.
- What was the inspiration behind going into this position?
Persons with disabilities have been underrepresented in employment ever since the industrial revolution. Since then, legislation such asthe Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act have opened doors to inclusivity for persons with disabilities entering into the workforce. Seeing the dignity and pride that accompanies employment is what drives me to succeed in my role. They feel good about themselves and are able to support themselves financially.
- What are the keys to being productive that you can share?
I write out all the things I want to accomplish at the beginning of the workday. I then place an A, B or C next to each task. A’s need to be done today, B’s can be put off until tomorrow, and C’s can be completed next week. Often the most difficult items are the A’s. It takes a lot of discipline for me to complete these tasks. I naturally want to do the easy C tasks that take less effort. However, I’m most productive if I get the hard things out of the way. It has the added benefit of reducing stress. Checking off each item on my list is satisfying. I also use my digital calendar to remember when I need to do tasks to keep my workflow in order. I like to get things done and being self-driven with a list really helps.
- Can you share a long-term career goal?
I’m doing my long-term career goal right now. My goal has always been to be in a career I love. My current job fits me like a glove. I enjoy what I’m doing now, and I would imagine it would be measured by how I help other people reach their own career goals. To make it a bit more specific, I’d like to see the people I serve be able to hold a stable job. A stable job often has the power to bleed positively into other areas of their lives, like relationships, family, and overall well being.
- How do you measure success?
I measure it one person at a time. For some, it’s something as significant as staying sober for a whole day, staying out of prison, keeping their family together, and so on. I’m always amazed at how providing people with a bit of encouragement goes a long way. I feel most successful when I motivate a young adult to grow up. A young adult can get away with being a student with minimal responsibility until their mid 20’s. It’s not so cute when they’re 28 years old, living with their parents, unemployed, and playing video games all day. I tell them that they better get off the couch and get busy, because they’re wasting their lives away. I build a relationship, and then tell them the truth about themselves in a way they can hear it.
- What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through the course of your career?
Relationships are the most important part of getting anything done. I need to have collaboration with my colleagues, supervisors, and office technicians. I need to build rapport and avoid adversarial relationships with my clientele. I’ve found it very challenging to reverse a relationship that has become adversarial. If you have a good relationship with a person, they are much more likely to respond in a positive manner to feedback and collaborating to get a goal accomplished.
- What advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed?
Your reputation is everything. So, keep that in mind when you’re taking classes because in education, some of your classmates are going to be your coworkers. Maybe even your supervisors someday. So, be sure and make as many connections as possible in your industry; get work experience and education. Do not expect to start at the top, that’s something you must slowly work your way into.
- What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?
I have a beautiful wife and two wonderful boys. I enjoy watching my kids play sports or whatever they’re into. As for myself, I enjoy playing golf, skiing, hiking, and fantasy football. Fantasy football is where you can draft your own teams and manage players like in a league. It’s just the fun kind of hobby I enjoy.
- How do you maintain a solid work life balance?
I try not to stay too long past the end of my shift. Always try to remember to take breaks, even if it’s just a short walk around the office. I try to remember to text my wife occasionally during the day. It’s a short and sweet thing I can do to let her know I love and appreciate her. Making priorities of what’s really important to me. With the small window of time I have with my kids at home, I want to make sure I make the best of that chance that I have to spend time with them because they’re not always going to be there.
- What is one piece of technology that helps you most in your daily routine?
It’s got to be Microsoft Outlook Calendar. I use it all the time to organize my appointments, tasks, and more. And it really helps when you have the option to put in pop up reminders in order to get things done.
- What’s been the hardest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
Staying organized. It doesn’t come naturally to me. My strengths are creativity and empathy for others. If someone comes into my office, they will notice papers spread out on my desk. It’s all laid out there for me to see and I know where everything is with the system that I’ve set up.
- What is one piece of advice you have never forgotten?
The director of Turning Point Community Programs, John Buck, told me it’s very important to never alienate any person or organizationthat you’re working with. This includes people inside and outside of a company or organization. You can get so much more accomplished when you have good relationships with people.
- What’s a piece of advice you would like to leave all of our readers with?
Do your best to keep a healthy balance in your life. Know your limitations and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Be compassionate towards yourself and add a little humor throughout the day so you don’t take life too seriously.