In the hunt for a good job in a bad economy, work experience really helps.
That is why Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities partners with Deseret Industries to offer work experience to associates looking to beef up their resumes. The DI pays wages and taxes; the CPD offers space, supervision and jobs for the doing.
In addition to providing thrift stores, the DI trains people who may struggle to get or keep a job. The associates who are chosen for a business partnership have first met standards showing they are ready to make the transition to the working world. Most have some issue — adjusting to a new culture, for example — that might make finding a job difficult, said Danny Brock, manager of business partnerships at Deseret Industries in Salt Lake City.
Those associates are paired with jobs that they want to do. In the CPD’s case, the partnership started when CPD Director Bryce Fifield contacted Deseret Industries officials in both Logan and Salt Lake City.
Jenae Butler of the Logan DI said she is glad he did. The center was a good fit for some of the Logan associates.
“We knew they could prove their abilities at the CPD,” Butler said.
Thanks to the partnership, the CPD has gained a writer for its Web site, a welder in USU’s Assistive Technology Lab and an experienced receptionist to greet people telephoning the CPD. All three of the associates with business partnerships at the center are people with disabilities.
CPD Director Fifield said the program helps the center meet its goal of helping people with disabilities become independent. Often they face three big issues: housing, transportation and employment.
“If people have a good, solid employment situation, those other two issues can be addressed easier,” he said.
The program that brought the three associates to the CPD is designed not only to get them a job; it also strives to put them in jobs they want.
“One of my goals is to hone my writing skills so when I go out into the real world after college, that can be a part of my resume,” said Skylor Pond, a senior at USU who currently writes articles on disability issues for the CPD Web site. “Here I am, trying to improve my writing skills, to hone my craft so I can write that book someday.”
Nicholas Thompson wants welding experience — enough of it that he can get a job in a shop. His work experience at the CPD’s Assistive Technology Lab follows training he received at Bridgerland Applied Technology College.
Amanda Kropf staffs the CPD’s reception desk two days a week.
“It’s been a really good experience,” she said. “It’s nice to come into more of a business-related job and see how things are run.”
Her long-term goal is to finish her education, and her work helps by giving her practice on the computer.
In addition to the CPD, several businesses in Cache County are also participating in the DI’s business partnership program.
Writer: JoLynne Lyon (435) 797-1977
Contact: Bryce Fifield (435) 797-2816