Joanne reached two milestones this year. She turned 18 and she started her first job.
Joanne absolutely loves movies and her career goal was to find a job in the food service industry.
With the help of Pine Tree Society’s Career Development Department, she was able to combine those two interests at Smitty’s Cinema in what she calls “the best job ever.”
“Those were her exact words to me,” said Lillian Doughty, Career Development Services Manager.
Joanne shared with her mother, Mary, “At the end of every shift I feel like I’ve completed something. What helps me is knowing I have support. When I have support at work, I feel good. When I get my paycheck, I feel happy. I love my job!”
It’s a job she worked hard to be prepared for by achieving her ServSafe Certification at Portland Arts and Technology High School.
“When we work with someone, we meet them where they’re at,” explained Doughty. “What are their interests, what are their skills? Someone says they have an interest in food, but how do we actually verify that? In this case, Joanne had shown true interest and initiative already by working to get her certification at PATHS so we knew she was serious about pursuing that direction.”
Joanne’s job at Smitty’s Cinema is to assist with meal preparation and, due to the training she has, on day one she already knew how to put on her gloves and apron and use the equipment to measure out portions for the cook.
Her mother Mary sees Joanne taking the responsibility very seriously. Mary said, “It’s amazing to watch. She knows she has to wear a particular shirt, sneakers and have her hair tied back — and she does it all.”
When Pine Tree Society’s Career Development staff matches a person with a job, it’s fairly standard for their first 20 hours of salary to be paid by a vocational rehabilitation program to give the employer a chance to be sure it’s the right fit.
“But in Joanne’s case, as soon as the manager at Smitty’s saw what she knew how to do, he hired her directly,” said Doughty. “She knows her way around a kitchen and it’s a good fit. She loves it and it’s wonderful to see her in a job she enjoys.”
The Career Development team provides Joanne job coaching for all the basics like learning how to punch in, where to put her things, what to do if she needs to call out sick and where to pick up her paycheck.
“We’re there to bridge the gap as she gets into a routine. We help with the soft skills that have nothing to do with the actual tasks of her job, but have everything to do with being successful.”
Mary said, “As a mom, it can be anxiety provoking and the support is a comforting feeling. I want her to feel accomplished and I want her to be able to advocate for herself. It’s a perfect fit because she’s able to earn money and build her self-esteem at the same time.”