Set up to Shine
For many of us, finding a new job is intimidating. From compiling a resume, preparing for an interview or that fear of meeting co-workers for the first time. For a person with a disability, finding the right job is even more daunting.
This is why Lighthouse Vocational Services (LVS) has partnered with the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) to help equip people with disabilities with the soft skills and confidence that they need to land an interview and the support from a job coach to thrive in their job.
The OVR is a state agency that connects people with disabilities looking for work with local agencies like Lighthouse Vocational Services.
Before coming to LVS, the individual in the OVR program will first take an assessment test to find out strengths and aptitude. For those ready for community work, Lighthouse gives people a chance to discover what type of work they enjoy by working at several places like Pony Express, Grocery Outlet or Lancaster Bible College for a few hours. Through working at many places for a brief time, individuals discover what they like and what they’re good at. Through this assessment, the job coaches learn to know the individuals well.
Next is the job search. Individuals learn vital skills such as how to create an effective resume and to include the phone numbers and places they worked. Through teaching, participants discover how to search for jobs online on sites like Indeed. They also learn what to wear for an interview and how to prepare through mock interviews with their job coaches. Through practice, individuals walk into interviews with confidence.
Meanwhile the coaches who know the individuals very well, look for businesses that are willing to work with the individuals and their job skills. This may mean going into a business for a tour and thinking of creative jobs tailored to the individual’s skills.
Once the participant lands the job, the job coach will shadow the individual for the first 40 hours to help start them strong on the job. This may include things such as learning how to use the time clock, or to find the coworkers who will support them.
In the next phase, the job coach will gradually pull back. Instead of being there at the job site, the job coach is there once a week to check in on them. In the final phase, participants work on the job by themselves. Even though they may be on their own, participants can still reach out to their job coach if they have any questions. Cheryl Brooks says, “(They can) always call on us. We’re still there for them.”
According to Cheryl Brooks, Director of ODP and OVR Employment Services, “Once individuals learn the job, they are very focused. They are reliable, do not call off and do not complain.” They just need a chance to learn the skills.”