Project SEARCH is a business-led transition-to-work program that provides internships to high school students with disabilities. The program was designed to prepare young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities for completive employment in integrated work settings. Fore more than 22 years Project SEARCH has supported thousands of students nationwide and now operates more than 400 locations in six countries, including right here in Prince George’s County!
The Arc Prince George’s operates the only Project SEARCH program in the county in partnership with Prince George’s County Public Schools, The Maryland Department of Rehabilitative Services (DORS), The Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) and our 2017 Host site Joint Base Andrews.
Our 2017 Project SEARCH Program featured a 10-month internship rotation program for students with disabilities that combined classroom learning and hands-on work experience through internship rotations throughout Joint Base Andrews.
The combination of instruction and immersion helped prepare the student-interns with skills that match labor needs in today’s integrated workforce. 2017 Project SEARCH graduate Julian Thomas interned at Joint Base Andrews’ Outdoor Recreation Department (ODR) and was offered employment at ODR after graduating the program. Julian’s supervisor Jamal Partman sat down with our Project SEARCH coordinator Eugenia Ebb to share his thoughts about the program and his newest hire.
How did The Arc help you on-board your new employee?
“The Arc provided a lot of information that was useful in getting to know Julian. Things that Julian might not have seen about himself from his perspective. I believe [The Arc] did a great job of being hands-on but not too much to the point where Julian was solely relying on The Arc to provide all communication. [The Arc] really allowed Julian to be more mature and independent.”
What training/skills did Julian come to the position with?
“Julian cam with the enthusiasm it takes to work at Outdoor Recreation (ODR). ODR deals with customers on a daily basis. It is not always easy in customer service and so you need the right mindset every day, Monday through Saturday. Julian came in with the right attitude. Also being physically able to move equipment from area to area was a good skill that Julian cam on-board with. To work at ODR you have to lift at least 50lbs, he fit right in.”
What was the biggest challenge you faced in hiring someone with a disability?
“I think the biggest challenge for me personally was making sure that I never excluded Julian from a task. I can only speak for myself but I never wanted him to feel like he couldn’t do something. Even if it was obviously a difficult task, we wanted to pair him up with someone capable so that if he couldn’t do it alone, we would have someone to help him get the job done. Julian, just like any other employee, deserves a chance at learning, growing and developing a new skill.”
Julian’s success is a direct result of his desire and determination to find fulfilling employment. With the support of The Arc’s Employment Services Team ,our expertise at matching the right candidates with the right jobs, and our partners like Joint Base Andrews, Julian is excelling at his job and making an impact. As we prepare for our 2018 Project SEARCH year, we need more partners like YOU to help give students with disabilities the opportunity to learn, grow and develop their competitive employment skills. Join us throughout October as we celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month with information, events and opportunities for your organization to get involved.
Interested in learning more about Project SEARCH?
Contact Project SEARCH Business Liaison Eugenia Ebb at EEbb@thearcofpgc.org or 301-925-7050 x 242
Interested in Hiring our Workforce?
Complete the below form or contact Director of Workforce Development Ciara Hosein
CHosein@thearcofpgc.org or 240-532-6005 x 9