JOB TRAINING: Preparing People With Different Abilities

It’s a big day for four interns at one metro grocery store. It is graduation day for workers in a nine month internship program. The program helps people with different abilities get hired.

Angela Oberlander has an important job to do. She says, “I’m pricing items because they want me to do this.”

She’s one of four interns at the Windsor Heights Hy-Vee. Angela puts up sale signs, while Amy stocks shelves. Megan works in the bakery, and Ryan bags groceries. He says, “It’s fun. I like bagging groceries.”

The nine month internship is through Project Search. Michele Keenan with Goodwill Industries of Central Iowa is the Lead Instructor. She says, “We provide job training to young folks with different abilities.”

Goodwill Industries of Central Iowa and Hy-Vee partnered to provide the program in a retail setting. Windsor Heights Store Director Matt Heldenbrand says, “It gives Hy-Vee a chance to help train a segment of the workforce to be successful and go out and get a job and feel good about what they have going on and be successful.”

The interns work Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Part of the time is spent in the classroom practicing things like yoga. Keenan says, “Stress management has been a huge part of what we’ve done again, and there’s a lot of nerves that come into this, so learn coping skills to kind of deal with those feelings.”

The interns also learn time management, interview skills and customer service. Angela says, “I ask them if they need help, and I help them out.”

Project Search has been so successful at the Windsor Heights Hy-Vee, they’re expanding it to other stores. Keenan says, “Next year we are going to have three stores.”

The program has been a success for the interns. Ryan and Amy have the skills they need for a job search. Ryan says, “It’s been good. I like it.”

As for Megan and Angela, they are now paid employees. Angela says, “I did my interview on Tuesday and I got hired.”

Area hospitals use Project Search to prepare workers. Hy-Vee is the second grocery store in the country to try it.

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