Young adults on the autism spectrum and with other disabilities were empowered to evaluate their strengths, talents, and interests through a virtual speaker series, Empowering Students with Disabilities to Launch their Career Paths During COVID-19. This series was hosted by Transition Pathways with support from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council. From January – June 2021, nearly 40 students from the School District of Philadelphia were connected to employers with immediate hiring needs in growing industries.
Representatives from Lowe’s, Comcast, and many more participated in the speaker series. Students connected with the speakers about available jobs, how to apply, and tips for securing employment. In addition to hearing from businesses, students connected with self-advocates and a financial literacy expert to prepare them for navigating the workplace.
As a result of the series, some students obtained jobs in manufacturing and retail. Others are pursuing certification opportunities to secure employment in education. See some highlights from the speaker series below.
Eric Kalet, Talent Acquisition Partner at Lowe’s described the variety of career paths available at Lowe’s, as well as the company’s Tracks to the Trade program. Through this program, Lowe’s pays for employees to attend trade school in specific fields, including carpentry and plumbing.
Dr. Scott Michael Robertson, Policy Advisor from the Department of Labor, spoke to the students about his experiences navigating employment as an autistic employee. One student shared “Mr. Robertson's way of speaking about his past really resonated with me because I've had some experiences like that back in high school. What I've learned from him is that I should keep persevering so I can see a better tomorrow”.
Jerry Marcus, Andi LaFace, and Jordan Snetman with Comcast shared information on jobs available and advice on being persistent when securing employment. “Keep in mind that you may apply for a position and then get a call that you’re not getting the job. Don’t be afraid to say to the recruiter that you want to work for the company and be persistent. It happens all the time that the job you get is not the first job that your interviewed for.”
For more information on Transition Pathways' programs, visit our website. For businesses interested in learning more about inclusive hiring, visit the Drexel Business Inclusion Center.