Work Opportunities Unlimited’s transition services help students with special needs successfully transition from school into adult life. Work Opportunities Unlimited works with schools across multiple states – including Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts – to help better prepare these students for positive work experiences.
“Through our transition services, participating students are able to learn basic job skills, including how to conduct a job search, write a resume, participate in interviews and learn skills to retain employment,” explained Stephanie Esposito, a Director at Work Opportunities Unlimited in New Hampshire.
According to Stephanie, the program’s goal is to help these students gain confidence, experience, skills and independence at work and within the community.
“At first, the students need significant support to learn the basics of finding, securing and maintaining a job,” Stephanie explained. “But we’re striving to help them become naturally supported, meaning they can rely on their coworkers and supervisors for support, as all other employees do, rather than depending on their Work Opportunities Unlimited team.”
As part of Work Opportunities Unlimited’s robust roster of school services, they offer classes and training in job development, life skills, resume writing, interviewing and more.
One of their transition services offerings, an Employment Skills class, was provided to students at Oak Hill High School in Wales, ME, this year. This biweekly class aimed to engage, excite and inspire the students about work. The class covered a range of topics, including how and where to look for jobs, resume and cover letter preparation, completing applications, interview preparation, clothing and hygiene, and positive on-the-job behavior. Participating students were selected by their teachers, who determined that they’d benefit from this type of group interaction and instruction.
“As part of the Employment Skills class, the Oak Hill students attended the 2013 Job Fair at the Central Maine Community College. Each student spoke with real employers and received feedback about work environments, pay, and required training,” said Mike Murtha, Director, Work Opportunities Unlimited in their Maine office. “The experience was powerful and positive for all involved.”
Katie and Erik, transition services students in Maine, worked with Work Opportunities Unlimited to create career plans, complete job applications, write resumes, and conduct mock interviews. They were each able to visit an employer in their fields of interest, to take tours, ask questions, and “shadow” employees to get a better sense of their responsibilities.
Katie, who was interested in hairdressing, visited the local SuperCuts, where the manager gave her a tour of the salon and explained their services. Katie was then able to shadow a hairdresser and observe and ask questions.
Erik was interested in gaming, so Work Opportunities Unlimited arranged a visit at GameStop in Topsham, ME, so he could learn more about gaming careers. The store’s manager gave Erik a tour, explained about the video games and other products they sell, discussed employees’ responsibilities and answered Erik’s questions. Erik shadowed an employee who was stocking new games and learned how the process works. Erik was so excited about the possibilities at GameStop that – with the support of his Work Opportunities Unlimited Career Resource Specialist – he filled out an application for an entry-level job there.
“The transition services program provides students with a better sense of what’s necessary to work within the community, and they get to explore the industries and opportunities that interest them. We teach and mentor them through every step of the process – from basic communications skills to showing up on time and speaking politely to supervisors and colleagues,” Mike explained. “By helping these students learn job skills, we’re helping them land fulfilling jobs in their local communities. Given the right environment, supports, determination, attitude, and training, these students can become more independent in the workplace, thus transitioning more successfully into adulthood.”