Easterseals Southern California’s WorkFirst program recently helped a young couple, Matthew and Vallee, find their dream jobs at Disneyland. Matthew had tried on his own to get a job at Disneyland prior to working with WorkFirst, but without success. He was then referred to Easterseals by the California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) to take advantage of the one-on-one, customized employment support services that WorkFirst provides to individuals with disabilities who are interested in finding and maintaining paid work or starting their own business.
Matthew was hopeful that WorkFirst could help him achieve his goals. In addition to admiring the corporate culture of Disneyland, Matthew liked that there was potential for professional growth at the famed theme park. He had previously worked at a privately owned security systems firm, and felt he couldn’t grow there any further career-wise. He explained his career goal to his Vocational Specialist Heidi Teti, who supported him one-on-one to help him gain skills and confidence.
WorkFirst Vocational Specialists take time to get to know the individuals they support, learning their back stories, interests, talents and goals. They then identify jobs and employers or educational opportunities that could be a good fit, and support job seekers to prepare their resumes, brush up on interviewing skills, get relevant certificates or education, and take the necessary steps for getting the jobs/careers they desire.
Heidi supported Matthew in various ways to help him achieve his ambitions. She helped him prepare to retake an employment test that he initially didn’t pass on his own, presented tips on applying for jobs at Disneyland, provided support with updating his resume, and prepared him for the job interview process.
“Heidi and I worked very well together,” Matthew said. “She gave me the time that I needed to be able to explore jobs that might or might not fit. She gave me the confidence I needed to say, ‘You do deserve this job at Disneyland for so many reasons.’”Matthew got the job and is now handling security at Disneyland. He plans to continue with WorkFirst to go back to school and apply for other jobs at Disneyland as he grows in his career. He was so impressed with WorkFirst that he referred his then-fiancé, Vallee, to work with us as well. Going through a similar process, Heidi helped Vallee get a position as a cashier at the Red Rose Taverne in Fantasyland.
“Working at Disneyland has been a dream of mine since I was four,” Vallee said. “WorkFirst helped me make my dream a reality. I had been trying to do it on my own for about nine months. It didn’t work because I didn’t know who to talk to or what to bring to interviews. Heidi sat down with me and talked about what I wanted to do at Disneyland. She gave me tips, like applying to at least three positions because that’s how Disney works. She helped me find interview clothes. It took about three months of making connections and submitting applications, and then I got the job!”
Finding the right job can have a tremendous positive impact on an individual. “When I work with people, their whole lives can change because of increased confidence and connections,” Heidi said. “Unemployment can be isolating, but when someone gets a job, it allows them to be part of a team and the community. Working with Vallee and Matthew has had a huge impact on my life. It shows it doesn’t matter what obstacles you have, you can overcome them if you have support and motivation.”