Cindy applied for services with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). Her VR counselor referred her to Sharon, Goodwill’s external job coach. Cindy had multiple barriers to employment. She had a physical disability, which limited her ability to do work that required extensive sitting or standing. She could not bend or lift anything over five pounds. She had chronic neck and back pain, along with chronic fatigue. Cindy’s doctor had also diagnosed her with depression and anxiety.
When Sharon met with Cindy, Cindy said that she needed to work full-time because of her expenses but she didn’t know if she could handle full-time employment. They discussed Cindy’s budget. While she had a variety of bills, her husband was also contributing to the household income. Sharon suggested that Cindy start out with a part-time job, which Cindy said she would consider. Cindy was also unclear as to what her vocational objective should be – she just didn’t know what kind of work she could do.
Sharon’s first step was to invite Cindy to attend a daylong job fair with her. Sharon and Cindy had two goals in mind: first, they wanted to see how Cindy could handle the physical demands of the day and, secondly, the job fair was a good way to get an overview of the kinds of employment available, including those that might suit Cindy best.
After the job fair, the women met and Cindy described how the day had completely worn her out. She noted that she had needed a few days of rest to get back on her feet. Cindy’s experience helped her confirm that she would need to start work with a part-time position
Cindy had not worked in a few years and her self-esteem was very low. She did not feel able to go to interviews or even to talk with employers over the phone. For several weeks, Sharon worked with Cindy on thinking about and articulating her strengths. Sharon asked VR for a short-term therapist to help address these issues as well. As the weeks went on, Cindy felt stronger. She continued to work with Sharon on interviewing skills until she felt comfortable with the kinds of questions that she would need to answer in an interview.
At the same time, Sharon was helping Cindy look at various job prospects, weeding out the ones that seemed appealing but might not work with Cindy’s physical restrictions. Sharon also helped Cindy create a variety of resumes to fit the kinds of positions that she wanted to consider. Soon, Cindy was ready to actively job search.
Sharon sent Cindy on a couple of interviews. She also asked her to drop in on a few businesses to ask about employment to gauge whether her self-esteem had improved. After a few interviews and impromptu visits with various employers, Cindy told Sharon how grateful she was that Sharon had been patient with her throughout her job search process. She was glad that Sharon had not made her feel like she needed to take the first job that came along but, instead, had encouraged her to find a job that was the best fit.
Cindy recently started a part-time job with a local distribution center. While even the short days have worn her out, Cindy feels that every day things get a little easier and her stamina is improving. Cindy wrote her VR counselor to let her know what a fantastic job Sharon had done in helping her find employment that she could do, given all her restrictions. Sharon was pleased when she got a copy of the letter but she had known that all Cindy really needed was a hand-up. It’s what we do …