“Whenever I saw a help wanted sign, I would go into the store to fill out an application and introduce myself. While speaking to the manager, I would become incredibly nervous, start stuttering, and completely forget what I wanted to say. Months went by, and I couldn’t find anything. I just wanted a job where I could grow.”
Most people remember that first job right out of high school: developing a professional resume, navigating through interview questions, and proving yourself despite a lack of experience, all made reaching that milestone even more special. However, for youth with disabilities, these obstacles are compounded, making that first paycheck even more elusive. This problem hinders further markers of independence, such as moving into a new apartment, affording higher education, or purchasing a car.
Alexzander graduated high school in 2018 with minimal experience working in his high school and at a camp for youth in foster care. He was ready and excited for his first permanent job, but after months of searching, he couldn’t get his foot in the door.
Donations to PRIDE Industries helped bridge this gap. Alexzander was referred to Carlos Perez, a job developer and together they developed a resume and cover letter and practiced interviewing. Alexzander was also provided with other success items including professional work clothes to wear to interviews, and a planner to help him organize his schedule.
“I have a learning disability, and Carlos worked with me to develop ways to overcome my anxiety and remember the correct steps while applying and interviewing for a job,” said Alexzander. “The consistent practice made me more confident since I knew that I had support, and Carlos would accompany me to meet with potential employers.”
All their hard work paid off when Carlos helped connect Alexzander to a paid internship, funded by donations to PRIDE, at a local Rite-Aid store. Eager to start working, Alexzander continually showed up with a positive attitude, impressing his colleagues. “It meant so much when my manager told me that my entire team wanted to invite me to join them as a store associate!”
“I am currently thriving in my job and am starting to learn how to become a cashier and change prices. The best part of each day is making someone’s day a little better.”
Thanks to PRIDE’s donors, Alexzander is now able to build a foundation for his future career. “While learning new skills at my job, I have been saving up money for college; I plan to study computer coding to become a video game or animation designer.