In the spring of 2023, Cara Richardson was in a transition period. The family she had been providing private childcare for was planning to move out of state, and she had a month or so to mull over her next move. Meanwhile, she looked forward to attaining her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology after her final semester at Salem State University in Salem, MA in the fall. While at her boyfriend’s family home at Easter, she struck up a conversation with her boyfriend’s aunt, who offered some helpful guidance. Cara was fortunate to be speaking with Barbara Marchetti, Performance Improvement Consultant & Veterans Outreach Coordinator for Leddy Group and Work Opportunities Unlimited (WOU).

Cara Richardson

Cara told Barbara that she was considering interning over the summer before returning to college. Barbara said, “When Cara mentioned she was looking for an internship that focused on helping to support a cause, I wanted to learn more about her major, coursework, and work experiences. I quickly realized that the combination of her H2H qualities (intelligent, kind, and personable) and her career aspirations was the perfect formula for a potential role at WOU.” Barbara shared the link to WOU’s website with Cara and explained its mission to remove barriers to employment for people with disabilities. As Cara said, “Barbara and I started connecting more, and things just unfolded from there.”

She interviewed with Director Rebecca Mayer for a Career Resource Specialist (CRS) opening on the North Shore team, and joined the team in May 2023! Cara was a little anxious at first, but said “all my trainings went really well and were very informative, and Rebecca eased me into going out in the field.” She had the expertise and assistance of her mentor, CRS Tina Simes, whom she shadowed on client visits. She also assisted other CRSs in supporting their clients as needed. Cara spoke highly of WOU’s team culture: “Everyone I’ve met in the company at every level have all just been so understanding, and I love the emphasis on work-life balance.”

Cara excitedly embraced her own growing caseload, sharing, “I’ve gotten to work independently with my clients, and it’s been going really well.” She loved visiting her clients at their job sites – including an elementary school, retail stores, and a historical society filled with interesting artifacts – because “I get to know my clients better, plus I get to know their coworkers, and you just meet so many people in the community. I really enjoy that.” She also appreciated the chance to apply her education while providing tailored support to each of her clients: “I think the social work aspect and psychology aspect go hand in hand. This role definitely encapsulates that.”

Cara is delighted that the power of connectivity led her to a rewarding opportunity to gain experience on her journey of exploring career paths that align with her psychology degree. She is grateful for everything she learned as a CRS at WOU, marveling “how everything all just fell into place, and how quickly these past few months have gone by. It’s awesome.”