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Ana Tamayo gets up early every morning and goes to work, returning home by 3:00 p.m. She works at A.C.C.E.S.S, (Adult Community Center for Educational Support Services.) Offered through the Ventura County Office of Education, A.C.C.E.S.S. is an educational program located in Moorpark that provides functional skill training for young adults with moderate to severe disabilities. Ana assists with student care, lunch preparation and clean up. “I like my job a lot,” she smiles, “because I help with special needs kids. It feels good.”

Ana started her job after turning 21. She still has hobbies, but now they have to wait for the weekend. Ana earns an hourly wage plus Social Security benefits. She lives with her parents and is pleased to contribute financially. “I pay my rent and sometimes I go shopping. It feels good to help my parents.”

Ana attended A.C.C.E.S.S as a student after completing Moorpark High School. She took classes at the Regional Occupational Program (ROP) in Camarillo through the Ventura County Office of Education. She selected Fashion Retail Merchandising to study and spent some time volunteering through a retail internship in a store before her current work opportunity arose. She’s delighted to be working with teachers and students there. Ana has adapted naturally to her shifting role, from student to staff. The familiar setting and teachers provide a supportive structure.

Ana’s transition was relatively smooth. This is due in part to good planning. Her circle of support includes her parents and sister Claudia Tamayo, a former TCRC Service Coordinator. Some early challenges for Ana included navigating public transportation, tracking her hours and completing her time card. Some people find a job coach helpful during transition, but Ana didn’t need one.

TCRC has service provider organizations that support individuals in employment settings. Agencies such as UCP Work, Inc. and PathPoint have several ways to help people get jobs and keep their jobs. TCRC Service Coordinator Tawny Lopez describes some of the support for employment. “People get help with job coaches, adjusting schedules, building in additional breaks or shortening the duration of the work day.” Lopez continues, “Employers can also be given some guidance on instruction. Styles of teaching new skills may vary or be multi-modal, according to the individual’s learning needs. For example, instruction may emphasize visual cues, verbal cues, or model the behavior or task.” A combination of teaching styles is selected to fit each person’s needs.

When asked about how young people might prepare for the working world, Jaime Rutiaga, PathPoint Program Manager, shared some suggestions. “Preparation is a continuous learning situation. Young adults are encouraged to volunteer their time in industries that they’re interested in. This will not only allow them to develop soft skills along with transferrable hard skills, but also develop a reference for future employment. Moreover, working in a crew-based setting, such as Integrated Work or Group Supported Employment, provides the individual the opportunity to grow, meet challenges, and succeed in a supportive environment. This is key to long-term success on the job.”

Rutiaga reminds job seekers that their first job is not going to be their only job. “This job is the first step on a pathway to continuous employment. The skills learned in this setting will only benefit them for future employment.” He adds, “It’s also important to have an exit strategy in place before leaving a job. Planning to work 12 months or 24 months before moving on is a good strategy.” Rutiaga’s last piece of advice is to always secure a new job before resigning from the current position.

Lucky for Ana, she won’t be needing this tip for some time. It’s clear that she has found the right position for her. She does a great job and is appreciated by her employer. “I love it here,” she smiles again. What advice would she give to a job seeker? “Make sure to be positive and patient.”