When Isaac first came to Goodwill, he was living at home with his parents. He was unemployed, and spent most of his days playing video games.
Isaac had completed Job Corps training in culinary arts but, due to overwhelming social anxiety and lack of computer skills, he was unable to find employment. His fear of being closely watched, judged, and criticized by others due to his stuttering had an emotional and social impact. Isaac isolated himself from public situations in which he had to speak.
Isaac loves food, and his dream was to work in the restaurant industry. When he became a participant in Goodwill’s Transitional Jobs Program, he gained on-the-job food service skills in Goodwill’s Smilin’ G’s Cafeteria. Initially, he was apprehensive and anxious about talking with others. He said, “I only want to do things in the back and nothing with customer service.”
Isaac stayed behind the scenes at first, learning how to operate the commercial dishwasher, sanitizing, and prepping food. As he mastered these tasks, he eased out of his comfort zone into talking with customers. He started by answering the phone occasionally, then he would take a customer’s order or ring up customers. His confidence grew with each successful interaction. His worksite was a supportive environment. His coworkers made him feel at home, at ease, and accepted.
Isaac received weekly soft skills training aimed at increasing his employability. These interactive classes taught Isaac basic interpersonal communication skills, problem solving, and teamwork. He never missed a class and actively participated in learning and polishing his skills to become a good employee.
After his training ended, it was time for him to look for work. He was hesitant to leave his newly-found work family and comfort zone. Every time he introduced himself to a potential employer or asked for or returned a job application, he built his confidence.
His hard work was rewarded by an interview at the Broadway Diner. Self-assured, he presented himself as a competent, professionally dressed candidate for the job. He returned from the interview clutching two monogrammed work shirts, a company hat, an employee handbook, and a broad smile. Isaac had successfully landed his first job.
He was scheduled for two days his first week of work, but by the end of the week, the employer was so impressed by his work skills and great attitude that he was promoted to five days a week.
The Transitional Jobs Program provided the work and job readiness skills. Isaac did his part by participating and applying those newly-learned abilities to successfully transition into community employment. Isaac has begun his exciting journey on the road to independence.