Tennessee Kindred Stories of Disability

A collection of stories from individuals with disabilities, families, friends, and disability service providers in Tennessee



Edward (24), Down syndrome, Davidson County


"My favorite part of my job is just getting things done and having a smile and having a good attitude. I am a go-getter. "

  • A Self-advocate's Perspective
  • Posted on 1/29/2013

 

My name is Edward. I am a former Next Steps student. I graduated December of 2011 and now I work for AmeriCorps at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and the Vanderbilt Coalition for Healthy Aging.  So far it has been going good.

As a student I got a job working for AmeriCorps. I said I’d be great for it because it works in my Next Steps Schedule. They asked me if I wanted to apply for the job. I said yes, so they asked me to come down for an interview about why I would be good for it. I was 45 minutes late for my interview because I was working out with a partner I had as a student. I was sweaty with my workout clothes so I was not prepared for the interview. Luckily I got the job. Thank goodness. I got the job to work for AmeriCorps and so far it’s been going good.  I am out of Next Steps now. I am regarded as alumni. I work here full-time now. First as a student I was working part-time, now I work full-time. So far it’s been going good. I just renewed my AmeriCorps contract for my second term, which is what I am doing right now. I come to AmeriCorps every day. AmeriCorps is a two-year term. I started September 2011, and will end July 2013. First term was until July 2012.

Next Steps helped me to prepare for this job. I made connections. I learned about what a successful employee is. I took a class with Next Steps called “Career Tech” on what it will look like to be a successful employee. I learned skills like using a thumb drive, flip cameras, typing, and writing resumes.  I made future references. They prepared me for an interview with an employer or a supervisor. Now I always have a resume ready to give in. We also discussed in a good way, about future references for a job and talked about my job and success. Next Steps helped me a get a job for AmeriCorps, not just AmeriCorps but anywhere in the world. I learned what to say on a resume and never lie. We discussed who will be the references like a teacher or a supervisor, who would be a good reference? We took Next Step classes about what to do when working like I do.

At the Coalition for Healthy Aging, I help with health screenings and I also help with the seniors. I help with housing or breast cancer or do steps for health screenings for people like at a high school or other places. At the Kennedy Center I do more organizational stuff like making bags. That is my specialty, making bags. The bags have flyers like who the Kennedy Center serves and who Pathfinder serves and like brochures and stuff. I help make the bags. That is my specialty. Sometimes I work on the database with Logan and I also have to work on Microsoft Word on the computer to enter names and addresses and emails. I work with Tennessee Disability Pathfinder too. It’s pretty simple for what I do. I help with Access Nashville. I help out with getting things ready and prepared for people to take down to conferences. I do a good job there. I also work for the Reading Clinic.  I do help some shredding and making copies, and working on the computer, and rubbing down tables, and putting bookmarks in books. I’d say that is going pretty well.

My favorite part of my job is just getting things done and having a smile and having a good attitude. I am a go-getter.  I would have to say that I struggle sometimes with things to get things done, to get them right. I’d say things are going pretty well.

I also go to Employment Connections where we do things like job club where we can discuss things about work, like problems we might be having and how to solve them.  There are different sessions where we discuss different topics like keeping a job, job attitude, how to call in sick, and how to dress for a job. Job club is about how things are going and keeping up to date. Try to make yourself better in situations at work or in a crisis. This is every other week.

I don’t know what I am going to do next. I may take the summer off and then the next fall I may build up my resume like add some stuff to it. I may look up some sites. But it depends on how the economy is going. I will look at jobs and see what is out there and put myself out there and be a go-getter, get things done, get a job, and make a living. And maybe one day I want to make a full-time living. I want to make a living for myself after AmeriCorps in fall of 2013. I want to make a living, mainly. It depends on how the economy is going and what jobs are out there and figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life. After the AmeriCorps term ends a year from now, I’m not sure exactly what I will do but my future is what I make of it.  I have to see what I can do to make it strong and good and have good pay. It just depends on what my life will look like in a year.

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