My EmploymentWorks Experience by Richard Furey

With DEAM (Disability Employment Awareness Month) wrapping up, we reached out to EmploymentWorks participant Richard Furey to tell us about his experience in the program and the impact it has had on his journey toward employment.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and what brought you to the EmploymentWorks program?

Greetings. My name is Richard Furey and I am 18 years old. I have high-functioning autism. I am currently attending college as a student planning on studying Sound Production in St. John’s, Newfoundland. I am also currently unemployed. However, with the help of EmploymentWorks, I plan to become employed through a line of work that best meets my interests. My future goals are to work within the music and film industry, with a concentration in video games and creative writing. Some of my hobbies include writing music, playing video games, and taking relaxing walks. My goal is to obtain full-time employment in a line of work where I can be comfortable and accepted, and possibly the opportunity be able to work from home.

Prior to starting in the EmploymentWorks program, I didn’t know where to start when choosing a career path. I had limited knowledge about the types of jobs that were out there and the kind of work experience that these jobs offered. Although I had a resume completed, I was unsure of the process and skills that employers were looking for to enable me to be hired. EmploymentWorks is a program where I have received guidance and knowledge that have answered my questions about becoming employed. My goal to find employment and start my adult life is what led me to join the EmploymentWorks program. The goal that I set for this program is to obtain a part-time job in order to support myself until I finish my studies in college, and that will allow me to find a place of work in my area of study.

In general, what have been some of your prior experiences related to employment?

Most of my prior experiences related to work have been through multiple volunteer opportunities.. It was not difficult for me to find volunteer opportunities, and in fact, I have participated in the majority of the volunteer work activities offered to me. I always disclosed that I had autism if a program manager didn’t do it for me, as I like to keep people informed that I do have autism in case there are any issues that need to be addressed. As for environmental/sensory accommodations, I have learned to self-regulate. As a result, the most I need are some quiet breaks to myself, and a quieter workspace to help me stay focused. Through the EmploymentWorks job sampling opportunities, I am learning more about myself, what accommodations would help me as I gain experience, as well as what types of work environments would be too challenging for me or what types or work/environment don’t suit me.

You are about halfway through the 12-week manualized program. During this phase of the program, participants attend 2 small group sessions each week – the first involves structured classroom learning, and the second visiting a variety of employers for job sampling. How have you benefitted from this experience?

Participating in this program has benefited me in many different ways. Working with other people on the spectrum looking for employment opportunities has helped me learn that there are other people aiming for the same goal. This experience has really given me the ambition to work hard and reach my own personal goals. Through my own ambition and compassion, I will strive to help everyone in my group achieve their dreams in any way I can. I have learned many things during my time at EmploymentWorks that I can take with me after the program is completed. One of the best examples was the “The Four-Color Personalities” test which has helped me learn a lot more about who I am, and what kind of values I have in my life (I’m a ‘Blue’ first, ‘Green’ second!)

The primary ways in which I have benefitted from the job sampling experience are that:

  • I’ve learned about multiple different job locations and the type of work experience they offer
  • Understanding importance of specific skills in different jobs and roles.
  • I have met with multiple employers and managers, which gives me a better network of connections when I go and look for a job

I find that employers who know I have autism are usually quicker to make accommodations and are more willing to work with me than employers who do not know. Whether you are in the work force or the volunteer force, it is important to know about someone having autism/ADHD/etc. in order for employers to better understand individual needs and how they can help their employees become more resourceful, efficient and productive people.

If someone with autism asked if they should participate in EmploymentWorks, what would you tell them and why?

I would tell them that EmploymentWorks is definitely a program I would recommend for people with autism to participate in. It can help them find a suitable career that best meets their interests and capabilities. There are people at EmploymentWorks who are willing to work with them throughout their lives and will make sure that they have every possible chance to succeed in the work force. You are given a lot of opportunities to meet with potential employers, gain experience in several types of jobs, and teach you how to recognize what your strengths and challenges are, and how to overcome those challenges. I would definitely share my experience in the program with other people and explain what to expect during their time in EmploymentWorks. EmploymentWorks is an amazing program that is giving me an opportunity to find my footing, and to help ensure success in my life for the future.

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