Maxwell Huni is a young man with a lot of plans for his future.
Huni lives in Sisters, Oregon, and graduated from Sisters High School in 2017. After graduation, he continued at the Sisters School District’s transition program until the summer of 2019, when he turned 21. While he was a transition student, Huni had work experiences at Black Butte Ranch and at Melvin’s grocery store in Sisters. Both of those positions gave him important skills to begin working at a company he loves: Best Buy.
A love for technology leads to employment
Huni’s job at Best Buy began with help from Dan Sarceno, a Youth Transition Program (YTP coordinator in Sisters. Sarceno knew Huni was interested in technology and video games, and he approached the Best Buy manager to propose a grant-funded internship. Six months later, Huni became a part-time employee. Huni has grown into the job—he contributes to the team, checks in monthly with his job coach, and hopes to keep increasing the hours he works.
There were a few bumps along the way to success. At first, Huni worked in the mornings, starting before the store opened. This early shift had a less consistent routine and tighter schedules, which made the work more stressful for Huni. By changing to an evening shift, Huni was able to keep a steady workflow. He now enjoys doing his job well, and his work team benefits as well.
He begins each shift with an e-learning unit, offered by Best Buy to all their employees. He then gets to work unloading the large totes that come off the trucks. He stocks products onto shelves, restocks extra products back into the warehouse, and keeps screens and shelves clean. He uses a special device to scan product codes, to determine exactly where the items belong. Along the way, he’s learned about the different departments in the store, and he takes a lot of pride in his work.
Huni’s appreciation for new games and media shows when he talks about his job. “What I really like about working at Best Buy is seeing the new products just coming out, especially the new video games and movies. And not to mention the employee discount!” he said.
Balancing work and college
In the fall of 2017, while Huni was still a transition student, he began to take college level courses at COCC in Redmond. That winter, he enrolled at the COCC campus in Bend for more classes, including math, writing, and graphic design.
“I changed to Bend because it has more classes to offer. I have a plan to transfer to Lane Community College, and I can do the requirements for that here at COCC in Bend,” Huni explained. At Lane Community College, Huni wants to pursue a program in computer simulation and game development. He’s also preparing for that career and building his knowledge about computer gaming with online classes through Udemy.com.
Through all this learning, he’s planning how to live independently once he does transfer to Lane Community College. “In order to keep moving forward with my plan, I hope I get into the SLLEA house, sometime in 2020,” said Huni. SLLEA stands for Smart Living, Learning and Earning with Autism. SLLEA.org offers supported living in Eugene for young adults in college or working; there is currently a wait-list for their homes, according to Julia Huni, Maxwell Huni’s mom.
Huni uses technology to manage his work and college schedule. On his iPhone, he sets alerts on Google calendar. He also uses an Echo device for reminders with Alexa. But Huni does not give all the credit for his success to calendars and reminders – it’s people that have been most important to him.
“What’s helped me the most so far? Getting help from other people like my job coach and mentors and tutors,” explained Huni.
Once he finishes college, Huni sees himself moving to one of the urban hubs for video game creation, such as Los Angeles or Tokyo. And judging from all that he has achieved so far, there is nothing that seems out of reach for him.