“We go through struggles to get to where we want to be at,” said Kashimir, 20, from Southwest Philadelphia.
Kashimir is part of the first cohort of JEVS Student Transition Services (STS), now celebrating its first year of operation–but more important than program dates are the opportunities for discovery: about potential careers, life in the workplace, and more about young Philadelphians’ senses of self and belonging in the workforce and community.
“I’ve been very fortunate,” said Leslie Lloyd, instructor/coach at Student Transition Services. “I see our students grow and mature, as they learn to work with other people.”
One of those students, Ronni, is a cheerful 19-year-old with an eye for fashion. She’ll be graduating from Martin Luther King High School next year, and thanks to the Discovery Process, was able to articulate some of her likes and dislikes when exploring career options.
“Funded by the PA Department of Education, Discovery is a process that really allows us to get in touch with who the individual is on a more personal level,” said Lloyd. “Sometimes, young adults with a disability do not ‘open up,’ and so I’m able to speak with families teachers, friends and counselors, to get a full picture of the things that really interest our students.”
For Ronni, this meant working with older adults twice a week, for two hours each day, job shadowing with the food service staff at Tabas House in Northeast Philadelphia.
“I set the tables and clean the tables and serve food,” said Ronni, who has big dreams for the future. “I want to design my own clothes, cook, and have my own business. It’s a lot!”
Ronni’s sense of excitement is matched by other STS students, Denzel and Kendall (who recently completed job shadowing at Food Moxie), as well as Kashimir, who recently completed an internship at PA CareerLink Suburban Station.
“I faxed, filed, copied, printed and sorted paperwork,” he said. “It was my first opportunity to work in this type of office setting, and I really liked being part of something that helps people get training and jobs.”
Through the first year of Student Transition Services at JEVS Human Services, the pride that students feel through their workplace accomplishments only serves to fuel Lloyd’s desire to do more.
“My goal for students is to help open their minds to the careers and opportunities that exist,” she said. “What I like most is when people get that first job, and how when it works out, you know that it made a difference. Seeing someone learn something in group training, or overcome a barrier in travel-training, is a huge gift.”
For Kashimir, majoring in business at Community College of Philadelphia, he joked that he wasn’t afraid of anything work-related, but that he wasn’t a fan of the elevator required to get to the second-floor CareerLink office.
“I’ve never liked elevators,” he said with a smile. “But I want to work in an office and someday have my own skin care business in one–it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. So now I ride it every day because I know that sometimes you have to go through the worst to get to the better.”