Typically, Adrian addresses his readers’ questions in his “Ask Adrian Anything” blog series. But this month, Adrian asked questions of his fellow No Boundaries participant, Alana, to learn about her successful job placement as she surpasses a milestone. Below is his interview:
Working at a job can be challenging for anyone. For people with disabilities, it can be even more challenging. They may have mobility issues, trouble following directions, poor social skills or take longer to understand what tasks they need to do.
When I first started my job, learning the ropes was a challenge. I have adjusted well over the years and it has been great. I have been at my job for 7 years now.
Recently, I sat down with Alana who just hit 7 months in her new job, and asked her about her experience.
Q: Tell us about your job:
A: I have been working at Sunset Foods in Highland Park as a front-end, part-time employee. I mainly do bagging, but I sometimes stock shelves, assist customers, and clean. I may eventually learn to do cashiering. I typically work four days a week for 5 hours.
I have had other part-time jobs, but I have had this position for the second-longest amount of time – 7 months!
Q: How did you hear about this position?
A: My family has always shopped at Sunset Foods. My mom recommended that I apply for a job here.
Q: Have you learned anything new in this job?
A: I have learned to prepare myself for work and how to bag groceries properly. I am also learning good customer service skills. I ask customers if they want paper or plastic bags and if they want a grocery pick up. My communication skills are getting better through interacting with colleagues.
Q: What do you find challenging about your position?
A: There are a lot of customers that come in one after another and you usually don’t get a break between serving them. You have to train your body to keep working even if you’re tired.
Q: Do you/did you have a job coach?
A: Yes, I had a job coach from Search Inc., but I don’t have him anymore. He helped me prepare for my interview and came with me to orientation to make sure I understood policies and procedures.
Q: What, if anything, has changed since you started working?
A: I have gotten more familiar with a routine and enjoy getting out of the house more often. I am proud to be making my own money. I think of myself as more responsible and more self-confident. Working makes me happy.
Q: How do you get to work?
A: On weekdays I take Pace Suburban Bus. Sometimes I take Metra home because the bus doesn’t run on Sundays. Then, sometimes on weekends, my mom drives me.
Q: Do you like your job?
A: Yes, I do. I like it.
Q: How do you feel this job will help you in life?
A: This job is helping me prepare for jobs later in life. I am getting experience interacting with customers and colleagues, following instructions, customer service, time-management, and personal responsibility.
Q: How does this job help you understand who you are and who you want to become?
A: It has shown me that I am responsible and I want to be that way in the future.
Q: What advice would you give someone coming out of transition?
A: My advice to anyone who is just starting to work is to work a part-time job before trying to tackle a full-time job. Try new things! It’s okay to explore different workplaces and get all different kinds of experiences. Try an internship! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; try to learn from them. Ask for help.