Ali's Customized Employment Story

JVS Chicago staff had the opportunity to present Ali’s visual resume at a Community Action Team meeting, where key stakeholders of the job seeker come together to discuss the client’s strengths, skills and interests and how they can benefit employers.

The presentation was successful and all participants agreed to help Ali, a young woman with a developmental disability living in the northern suburbs, secure employment. JVS staff came away with numerous suggestions of possible employer partners.

The following morning a meeting attendee and CEO of a downtown office emailed the JVS employment specialist expressing interest in hiring Ali to provide additional office support. The Community Action Team meeting had provided an opportunity to “meet” and understand the client’s strengths and desires, as well as any necessary accommodations needed to ensure their success in the workplace.

The employment specialist scheduled time with the CEO to review the work environment and negotiate Ali’s prospective role. The next step was to facilitate a meeting with the CEO and Ali. Everyone agreed that Ali would contribute to the success of the office’s daily operations and she was offered a job.

Ali began working as a part-time office support clerk. Some of Ali’s main responsibilities include filing, mail handling, and beverage delivery to visiting clients. The employment specialist provided job coaching, while working alongside the office staff to create and implement productivity enhancements that not only ensure Ali’s success, but also increase the office’s productivity.

Ali has been working for more than a year and so much has changed in her world. Before starting her job, Ali had never been downtown Chicago without her family. Now she travels independently by public transportation to and from her job. In the early months, Ali would say very little to other workers. She has learned that greeting her co-workers or asking them about their weekend is a great way to get to know them. Now it seems to come natural to smile and wish them well.

Ali has been working with her employment specialist to better understand how feeling good about herself and her job play an important part in what happens in the workplace. No matter what the task is, Ali knows that she is helping the work team succeed, which in turn makes her feel good.