A discussion with Lauren Crisp, at Good-2-Go Oregon, on the role of job specialists and job coaches.
Students in transition programs and their families know that each of us grows and learns at our own pace. Not all students are ready to launch into independent living after high school, and that is why transition services are there for support. Students with intellectual and developmental disabilities can continue learning and developing job skills for three more years after high school. But what happens after they reach the age of 21, and graduate out of their transition program? Fortunately, adults with diverse abilities can find support through several organizations, including Good-2-Go Oregon.
Now in its 10th year, Good-2-Go Oregon offers a wide range of services for their clients. They help with transportation, caregivers and respite care, and create community life and recreation opportunities. They also support adults with disabilities in one of the most important areas of independent living: finding employment.
To learn more about Good-2-Go Oregon’s employment support program, we sat down with Lauren Crisp. She’s one of the Job Specialists at Good-2-Go Oregon and works as a Job Coach, too. We talked about how they help clients jump into the job search, build their resumes, and succeed in the working world.
Here are some question-and-answer highlights from our conversation. These topics are especially relevant for transition students and their families, as they plan for a bright future!
Q: When a client first comes to you for help with employment, how do you begin?
A: We begin with a discovery process to identify what the client is interested in, and what they are good at. We talk to their teachers, families, support workers, and supervisors from past work experiences. What chores do they do at home? Do they like to work independently, or with people? Do they have a hobby or passion like fashion, or science? All of those things can relate to different jobs.
Our clients work closely with a job specialist to identify all their skills. Many clients aren’t aware of everything they are capable of! The discovery process can take a few months, but it’s really important to help narrow down the type of work to look for.
When clients come to us from a transition program, they often have done a lot of the discovery work already. They might have a solid resume in place, too—then we can move more quickly to the next steps. One tip for transition students, before they graduate, is to keep an eye out for work environments that look interesting. As they go shopping or out to eat, think about the different tasks that people do there, and what that would be like for them.
Q: What comes next, after the discovery process?
A: Building a portfolio or resume usually happens as part of the discovery period. As clients learn to define their goals, we help them tailor their resumes for the right kind of job. Then we might find a temporary job opportunity, so they can test out different kinds of work.
When the client is ready, we identify businesses that match the client’s skills and interests. Good-2-Go has developed relationships with many local businesses, but we are not limited to just those places—we’ll approach any business that might be a good fit. We help the client through the application process and work with the business, too. We want businesses to understand how we support our client through training and beyond.
Q: Which part of the job application process can be most challenging?
A: I’ve found that many clients struggle with who to list as a reference. Every business wants to check out references before they hire a person, so these are really important.
The list should include supervisors from past jobs or volunteer experiences—those are the best. Teachers and coaches are another good possibility. Maybe the person has helped a neighbor or a family friend, with yard or house work, and they might be a good reference too.
It’s a good idea for transition students to start building their list long before they start looking for a job. Every time a student has an internship, volunteer job or employment, they should be sure to save their supervisor’s full name and contact information.
Q: What role does the job coach play?
A: Each of our clients has a job coach that stays with them as long as needed after they are hired. The job coach works with the client on the job site, for at least 90 days after the employment starts. Their job is to make sure that all the training goes smoothly, and to help the client gain any new skills needed. Sometimes challenges or barriers arise, and the job coach helps resolve the problem so the client can do their job successfully.
Depending on the capacity of the client and the type of job, the job coach may step back as the new employee gains confidence and grows into the new position. Some clients just need occasional check-ins, and sometimes the Job Coach stays fully involved.
Q: What should businesses know about hiring through Good-2-Go Oregon?
A: The most important thing is to push aside any stereotypes about what people with disabilities can do. Our clients are capable of succeeding in so many different positions—from stocking shelves to security guards, and more.
Our job coaches work in the background and know how to help the employee without being conspicuous. There is no cost to the business for the job coach’s work—they pay only the normal wage for the employee.
Any business interested in finding good employees through Good-2-Go can contact us at 541-306-3691.