David wakes to start his morning commute by train, then bus, then the subway to get to his full-time IT job promptly at 7:30 a.m. What dedication, especially considering that he’s only 19-years-old.
Some may wonder how it’s possible for a teenager to have such a high tech skill set so early on in his career. The path he has followed demonstrates just one of many scenarios that our young adult clients can experience during their career exploration journeys at JEVS Human Services.
As a high school student, David was always interested in technology (not to mention video games and his Nintendo Switch!). During his junior year, his counselor approached him about JEVS IT Career Readiness Program, a career and technical education (CTE) program comprising 6-months of hands-on skills building and exposure to the world of work for individuals with disabilities ages 17-24. David thought why not try it, and dove into the program his senior year in September 2018.
David spent his entire high school days at JEVS’ career training school, Orleans Technical College, which is where the IT training took place. He learned how networking works and the basics of information technology, like how to take apart and reassemble a computer, which David eventually taught his classmates to do!
After finishing the IT Career Readiness Program, David jumped right into a second JEVS program in July of 2019, called IT Pre-Apprenticeship Program. This program provides foundational information technology training and professional development to help young adults like David to transition into a registered apprenticeship, college, or the workforce. Through this program, David was able to shine. He interned at Gratz College, in Melrose Park, Pa., then was brought on as an apprentice there. Today, David is a full-time employee at Gratz as an information and AV support specialist.
“Gratz was delighted to have worked with JEVS in providing an internship in our IT department for David,” said Gratz College President, Paul Finkelman. “This sort of partnership supports the missions of both the College and JEVS. The best part, for Gratz, is that David stayed on as a new employee, and continues to learn on the job, while supporting our programs and IT needs. It is truly a terrific outcome for everyone.”
David has become a beloved employee around Gratz and his positivity rubs off on others. David’s supervisor, Donna Guerin, said, “Since we first met David on his interview to intern with us, his enthusiasm was clear. Not only was his skill set exactly what we needed, but his personality and savvy really shone through. His curiosity and willingness to take on challenges has made him a staff favorite on campus.”
David is quite the inspiration for young people with a disability who are eager to enter the workforce. It wasn’t easy for him to reach this point. “Transportation was a huge struggle at first for me,” he said. “I think others should just go for what they want and follow their passion; there’s always something else you can do and just keep trying, because there is something out there for everyone.”
David would like to attend Arcadia University in the fall, while still working part-time at Gratz College. He said if it wasn’t for JEVS, he probably wouldn’t be majoring in IT at Arcadia, and would not have found this path he was looking for.