From the Archives…. Summer 2011 newsletter

Discovery –  Charting a path to employment      By: Dan Rietz, Vice President

In this tough economic environment, we need to use every resource available to connect people with employment opportunities.  Select TSE management staff and direct support professionals have been trained in and are applying the principles of Discovery with a pool of TSE job seekers.  If you are unfamiliar with this concept, Discovery is an approach to job development that seeks to find a greater understanding of the person who is seeking employment.

The focus is not on interests alone, as the desire to work in a particular industry will not lead to a successful job if the person doesn’t have the necessary skills to do the required tasks.  The Discovery process involves speaking with the job seeker and to the people who know that person well, observing them in different environments, to determine the person’s ideal work environment.  Historically, the focus was on “work skills” that fit within a defined set of “typical” work requirements.  However, people may demonstrate skills in non-work environments, such as at home, that may very well lead to work opportunities.  A person who is able to assemble the components to a home stereo, someone who assists with making toast in the morning, an individual who feeds, bathes and cleans up after the family pet…these and other skills may be the key elements of a potential career.

As TSE staff have worked through the process, we have discovered many things about our job seekers.  For one individual, Bill, as a part of exploring his extensive interest in classic rock music (Bill knows so much about various artists, albums, song tracks!), his Discovery staff found that his music interest carried over into T-shirts.  Bill has a large wardrobe of concert tees, with an emphasis on Heavy Metal bands!  Bill did a trial at a screen printing shop, and is currently on an on-call basis to help them fold and arrange their inventory during their busy times. He is also in process with another clothing store to help them manage this area of their business.  Sometimes, the path toward a person’s career doesn’t follow the most obvious course.

Sean, another job seeker with TSE, has been a part of TSE’s Community Adventures program.  Community Adventures provides a community-based service to individuals who are seeking employment, but aren’t interested in site-based supports.  Kelly Ligday, TSE Employment Specialist, manages a group of four individuals in this program.   Their schedule consists of doing job search activities, including online research, community exploration and applications throughout the week.  They meet at community locations, such as the YMCA and local library, to start their day.  The group volunteers one day per week at the Roseville Library, working in the back room helping to manage the returns.  Sean has been working with Kelly, using elements of the Discovery process, to find an employment niche that works for him.  Currently, Kelly and Sean are working with a coffee shop in Sean’s neighborhood, trying to carve out a part-time job for him.  The coffee shop is very near to Sean’s home.   In fact, Sean and his family are regular customers – a fact that may not have been “discovered” without doing the more in-depth evaluation that the Discovery process facilitates.

As informed consents are acquired, TSE will begin posting brief profiles of the individuals who have completed the Discovery process.   These will highlight the employment themes for each person.  We encourage everyone involved with these individuals to take an active role in investigating employment opportunities that will create an employment match.  Together, we can all be our most effective in finding the right job for each person…think of the massive network of contacts that we can create together!!