Council-Sponsored Grant Activities: Employment
The Discovery Process is a tool, an information gathering strategy that involves seven stages of learning about an individual. The Process includes interviews with the person and his or her family along with relevant school and work experiences. Three vocational themes are identified that best match with the person's interests, talents, and skills. A narrative description includes ideal conditions of employment, and a job/business development plan identifies 20 businesses that correspond with the vocational themes. Informational interviews are scheduled. The end result is a job offer.
So far this project year, five transition students are gaining work experience in a variety of positions and with a variety of employers - a thrift store, bowling alley, a University cafeteria, and the National Sports Center, these reflect the vocational themes and interests that were identified through the Discovery Process.
Four adults have secured positions that also match their interests, skills, and abilities; and the job search continues for those individuals who want to work more hours in a different work environment.
Followup is done for both transition students and adults with developmental disabilities who were employed during the past two project years. In most instances, those jobs continue; in some instances, hours and or hourly wages have increased; in other instances, new jobs have been started.
Five students have identified career planning goals and three individuals are continuing their education in postsecondary education programs.
In April 2014, the Employment First Coalition hosted a special educators summit to develop goals that would lead to an increase in employment opportunities and meaningful employment outcomes for transition students. Twelve school districts participated.
In October 2014, a follow summit was held with a focus on work incentives and family engagement. Eleven of the original 12 school districts along with Vocational Rehabilitation Services counselors. A total of 69 individuals attended and evaluated the summit (scale of 1 – 5; 5 = highest) in terms of knowledge gained (4.7), usefulness (4.9), and overall quality (4.0).
In February, Mark accepted a job with the Sun Ray Lanes Bowling Alley providing cleaning and customer service. His school schedule limits his weekly work hours but he'll be adding shifts and hours over time.
His informational interview turned into a job shadow that also happened to be his first day of work. Mark is a sports enthusiast and likes to organize, so this is great fit for him.
During the 2014 project year, Regina found a job at Presbyterian Homes that reflected her vocational themes. She had been asked to apply for a position in food service but a job as a server and dishwasher better matched her interests. She quickly became a valued employee, and doubled her work hours from 14 hours to 28.5 hours per week. According to Regina's supervisor, "she is a breath of fresh air and a joy to have on our team."
Connor has an "eye for design," a talent that is being refined and enhanced through the architectural drafting certificate program he is pursuing at Hennepin Technical College. His career was launched after visiting the Parade of Homes. There he met a builder who scheduled an informational interview and reviewed Connor's portfolio.
His first work experience, altering blueprints based on customer requests, led to the builder's interest in incorporating some of Connor's designs into custom homes.
A recently purchased architectural software program makes it possible for Connor to work at home and minimize the challenges of an open and nosier work environment.
Josh is very organized, environmentally minded, and pays particular attention to details. His job at Unique Thrift Store in New Hope resulted from an informational interview and was created around his interests and skills. He is responsible for the toys, clothing, and shoe areas in the Store.
Josh is currently working 10 hours per week; his hours will increase when he completes school. "My life is so much better since I have this job," he said.
Thomas is an "innate genius for navigation and directions." He also has a strong interest in public speaking, a skill that made it possible for him to lead services at his church with the help of the church's amplification system. Now, he is working on improving his communication skills with Chatter Vox, an assistive technology device that is a personal voice amplification system. With Chatter Vox, Thomas has taken the lead during informational interviews, is in a much better position to speak with potential employers about his many talents, and is exploring other software programs to help him land a position in the arts or travel industries where he has other skills and interests.
Zach's job at Home Depot resulted from an informational interview, and his interests in physical labor and craftsmanship. He also has woodworking and landscaping skills that fit well with all aspects of Home Depot's business. Zach started working six to eight hours per week but, within a month, increased his hours to 24 to 32 hours per week as he was introduced to other areas in the store and additional job responsibilities.
Athletics is high on Logan's interest list. He also enjoys the outdoors and likes to keep on the move. Following an informational interview with the Chief Operating Officer at the National Sports Center, who wanted to know all of Logan's skills and interests, a job was created for Logan. He is assisting the PGA Head Professional at the Victory Links Golf Course. He uses a walkie-talkie on the course, drives a gold golf cart, and has been assigned more job responsibilities. He has also increased his hours from 15 hours per week, while completing his senior year in high school, to 20 hours per week after graduation.