Kayla Aisquith loves to help people. Equipped with her degree in social work, she found a rewarding role as a social work assistant at a nursing home. However, after about a year, she realized it was no longer the right fit for her. Luckily, she was friends with Scott Baker, a former Career Resource Specialist at Work Opportunities Unlimited (WOU).

By the time that Kayla told Scott that she was seeking a new career, Scott had recently moved on from WOU, but he knew that Kayla’s background was similar to what a Career Resource Specialist (CRS) does. Kayla says, “I didn’t know about WOU at all before Scott told me about it. I didn’t even know what a job coach was. When I first met Scott, he was still at WOU, so I asked him, ‘What do you do exactly?’ He told me, and I thought that the job sounded so cool…I’ve always wanted to work with people who have some barriers.” That is precisely what a CRS does: break down barriers to employment for people with disabilities. Kayla thought to herself, “I’m going to go for this!”

Scott reached out to Chessa Smith, Director of Career Services, to let her know Kayla had applied and to put in a good word on Kayla’s behalf. Chessa says, “When Scott referred Kayla, I knew she was someone I wanted to interview and get to know. Scott was a former team member and knew the role so well that I knew if he was recommending her, she would have many of the qualities that he knew would make her successful.” It also helped that Kayla had learned so much from Scott about the role. Chessa says, “She was by far the most prepared candidate I had met because she had a great idea of what to expect and understanding of what we do, even if she had not experienced it before.” As a result, Kayla’s interview was a resounding success, and she started as a CRS on the Annapolis team in March 2023!

As expected, Kayla’s social work background has paved the way to her success as a CRS. Her education and training emphasized the importance of building a rapport with her clients, so she is able to tune in to their needs and goals and find employment opportunities that fit them. Chessa says, “Kayla’s experience before WOU helped to prepare her for this position, and her openness to learn and to grow in a new direction has been wonderful. She is a very kind and empathetic person and a wonderful listener. She makes people want to get to know her and so she connects really well with her clients and employers. You can feel she has your best interests at heart and she wants you to succeed.”

One thing that Kayla likes about being a CRS is the variety of the role, supporting clients of all ages and in a variety of positions throughout the community. She shares, “I love getting out of the office, and not being in the same place every day. I enjoy meeting clients where they are at. That’s a big part of providing a service, meeting them where they are.” Kayla also relishes the opportunity to finding better placements for clients who may not be happy in their current workplace or position, or may not be getting as many hours as they would like. For instance, one of Kayla’s clients worked at a fast-food restaurant and did not want to remain in that industry. Kayla placed him in a retail role where he is much happier, and his managers have positive feedback to share with Kayla at each onsite visit. She says, “It’s always very rewarding to help clients find something else that’s a good fit for them, and see them succeed.”

Kayla believes that WOU’s culture is very unique because of how team-oriented, caring, and supportive everyone is. She says that the amount of continuous training available and the support of upper management demonstrates that WOU wants its employees to succeed without being stressed out at work. “I’ve told Chessa I have never worked for an organization like this one before,” says Kayla, “and I consider myself to be very lucky.” Chessa shares, “Kayla is a wonderful addition to our team and I thank Scott again for knowing she would be a great team member for WOU!” Kayla is grateful for the power of connectivity as well, saying, “I honestly think everything happens for a reason, and I think being friends with Scott and building those connections really led me to a great place. I love this job. I’m really happy.”