article_heather_malingWork Opportunities Unlimited team member Heather Maling-Menard, a Director in the organization’s Maine office, recently became nationally certified as an Employment Specialist. Maling-Menard is the first Work Opportunities Unlimited Director to earn her national certification.

Recently, the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) started requiring that all people who provide rehabilitation services in Maine must earn an Employment Specialist certification. Various Work Opportunities Unlimited employees who work closely with this organization have gone through the certification process, though Maling-Menard is the first Director in the organization to become nationally certified.
“I took a three-month, online class through the Virginia Commonwealth University and enjoyed various lessons about supported employment, networking with businesses for job development and facilitating natural support for the worksite,” explained Heather Maling-Menard, Director with Work Opportunities Unlimited. “The class was self-directed, so I could learn on my own schedule, within the university’s required time parameters. I watched the instructors’ educational video podcasts and participated in a cool viral chat room, where I answered the instructor’s questions and received feedback from the teacher and my virtual classmates.”

Maling-Menard said she highly recommends this class for its fantastic curriculum, explaining that the content is relevant for people within the industry. She said a number of Work Opportunities Unlimited colleagues have also participated in this certification program and found it to be beneficial.

“A big takeaway for me was seeing how Work Opportunities Unlimited’s services compared to other companies in other states. While other companies are certainly doing great work, our community support program is so far advanced. Work Opportunities Unlimited is definitely cutting-edge when it comes to providing services,” Maling-Menard added.

In addition to taking the basic certification course, Maling-Menard wrote a paper summarizing key learnings from the class, which earned her a national certificate. Now, with her national certification, she can work as an employment specialist anywhere within the United States.

“The entire Work Opportunities Unlimited organization is proud of Heather for being the first employee within our organization to earn her national certification as an Employment Specialist. At Work Opportunities Unlimited, we pride ourselves on continually learning and evolving, so we can always provide the most exceptional service to our clients, customers and business partners. This national certification is a perfect example of that,” said David Dwyer, Senior Vice President and Vocational Division Leader at Work Opportunities Unlimited. “We’re excited that more of our employees have also participated in this certification process and we’re confident that the key learnings from their classes will benefit our clients in a variety of ways.”