Mark, Featured Employee Interview
Where are you employed?
I work 25-27 hours a week at Mariano's in Utility. I always liked the grocery store environment. It's a team environment, structured. I always wanted to work at one.
What advice do you have for job seekers who have disabilities?
"Get hooked up with an agency. It saved me so much and cut through the red tape. It's a lot easier. When I tried to search for work alone, there were challenges. I went on a lot of interviews. They were not always accommodating. Right away they said employees with seniority get the best hours. They did not seem personable; the atmosphere did not seem welcoming.
Don't give up. It's really easy to give up but you are in it for the long haul. It will pay off. I did a lot of volunteer work. Volunteering looks good on a resume and you gain transferrable skills."
What was the most helpful support you received from your employment specialist?
"Assistance with applications. We met once or twice a week. He gave me constructive criticism, really good feedback. He helped me to understand employer expectations.
A couple of times it got tough. The store was short staffed. I did the work of 2 people. My employment specialist has given me positive encouragement. When things get hard, I take a breather, step away so I can focus. I didn't always know how to do this. I go and get the help I need. I know who to go to, the structure of the organization. David helped me but I learned early on too. Managers are approachable and sympathetic."
What type of support did you receive when you were in school?
"In high school I was told by teachers that I probably would not be heading to a job. I did fairly well in school, so college was pushed. It was all about statistics. You are just a statistic. Schools are really focused on test scores and statistics-it just grinds on you.
I graduated with an Associate's Degree in 5 years. My counselor at school was very supportive. I had a lot of tough times there, but she helped me through it.
I went to a couple of support groups but found they were not a good fit. Just because people are Autistic, it doesn't mean they have the same interests."
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