Reflecting the important role that different perspectives play in workforce success, this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) theme is “Inclusion Drives Innovation.” Observed each October, NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents.
The Philadelphia “Employment 1st, Employment NOW!” Steering Committee is celebrating this year’s event with a month of employment success stories. Each day you will be receiving an email containing a new story about someone who is contributing to their community through employment. We invite you to join us as we celebrate their successes!
Christian participated in an internship at Barnes & Noble at Drexel University’s renowned Project SEARCH program, where his positive attitude and willingness to help coworkers earned him a great rapport with management – so great that Christian was asked to work a second internship rotation. During the second rotation, Christian learned new tasks and expanded his skillset, gained independence, and proved that he was a valuable member of the team. As Project SEARCH programming neared its end, management approached Christian with a job offer that he gladly accepted. Christian was hired as a Store Associate. His tasks include stocking merchandise, fulfilling and shipping web orders, and creating barcodes for the sales floor. His job coach set him up with an iPad to support communication, and Christian has since been able to take on more of a customer service role. He used to wait for customers to approach him, but with his accommodation he has gained confidence to approach customers to ask them if they need assistance. The team at Barnes & Noble is very aware of Christian’s support needs, and their top-notch natural supports have allowed him to quickly achieve a high level of independence at work. Christian’s journey to becoming employed has had great impact not only on his own life, but on that of his coworkers as well. The experience is best summed up by this quote from his manager:
“The purpose of Project SEARCH was to teach job skills and prepare interns for jobs after high school. In hindsight, I am not sure who gained a more valuable experience: The interns, or myself.” – John Rorer, General Manager, Barnes and Noble at Drexel University