Think back to one of your first jobs. Were you in high school or was it during summer vacation? Were you excited, anxious or even scared? Think back to all the lessons you learned during your first work experiences. How to get along with coworkers, the importance of punctuality, and following a dress code. How to accept feedback from supervisors, as well as how to provide it to others.
Our first employment experiences have provided us all with the foundation and work ethic to inform how we navigate the responsibilities of the working world.
For youth with disabilities, these experiences can be even more transformative.
Goodwill of Orange County, in partnership with the Department of Rehabilitation, has begun providing youth with disabilities these employment experiences with the Student Services Work Experience Program. The program allows students ages 16-21 the opportunity to participate in a 100-hour paid internship in a community-integrated work setting earning minimum wage or higher. During training, students will receive guidance and assistance from staff and job coaches with years of experience providing support to persons with disabilities in employment settings.
One of the first youth to utilize this service was Charles, who is completing his internship working with shopgoodwill.com, Goodwill of Orange County’s e-commerce auction platform. Charles gains important knowledge and experience in a growing work environment that also aligns closely with his interest in technology, a field he intends to have a career in when he gets older.
Charles is grateful for the support he receives at work describing it as “such a great opportunity and people willing to go the extra mile to make sure everyone is satisfied with the workplace.”
With the support and guidance of Isaac Harmon, the Youth Work Experience Supervisor, Charles works on multiple e-commerce tasks such as pulling books and media for customer’s online orders.
Charles states,”Working at Goodwill has been great and has provided me with life lessons that I will never forget. I have learned that with hard work comes great rewards.”