Like many other individuals with autism, Chris felt at a loss when he faced the prospect of joining the workforce. But that changed when Chris took part in Project SEARCH, a program designed to help adults with disabilities gain workplace experience through internships.
Chris underwent nine months of classroom training, working on developing the social skills needed to be successful in the workplace. After his nine months of classroom training, Chris completed his internship at Centene Corporation, a managed care organization, working in the on-site bistro and mailroom for eight months, full-time. There, Chris was able to apply what he learned in the classroom to real-life scenarios. He gained hands-on experience while honing his skills even further.
After his internship, Chris had a new outlook on the job market. He was paired with a job coach to help him explore what career he may want to pursue and assist him in applying for new positions.
“Applying to jobs when you have autism makes it really difficult in most places,” Chris said. “I went through a lot of change and learned that I can be open to anything and can handle a job and a lot of work. I also learned how to trust people and not give up.”
With the help of his job coach, Chris was hired full-time at Mercy Hospital.
Chris began working at Mercy Hospital South as a food technician as the next step in his career journey. He says the skills he learned at his internship have helped him in his new position. And thanks to that position, he now has a clear vision of what he wants to do with his future.
“My long-term goal is I want to work with people with special needs beyond what most people would care to help,” he said. “In my current job, I see people day in and day out with disabilities. I not only serve them, but I work with them. I feel like I’m training to work with people with special needs.”