During the first six weeks at the Gatehouse the staff works closely with the residents to evaluate a wide range of academic, life management and vocational skills. Vocational tests are given to develop a realistic vocational direction that can successfully help the residents obtain and maintain employment. Tests of achievement, aptitude, values, data entry, key boarding skills and work related interests help the staff work with each resident to understand his/her strengths, needs, abilities, and job search skills.
Preparing for Employment
After vocational testing is complete, the staff works with the resident one-on-one and in a classroom setting. Residents attend a 2-hour vocational class twice a week that allows them to express their concerns and needs for employment while learning how to write a resume and cover letter using Microsoft Word. Other classes cover job etiquette, and how to prepare for an interview and answer questions asked by employers.
The most important part of the vocational program is teaching the residents to search for and obtain employment. Individuals are offered volunteer service opportunities that help them develop job skills and understand their interests. The goal is to have the individuals working and/or volunteering at least three days per week.
After residents have searched for jobs and ensured that their cover letter is job-specific and their resume is current, they email their resume to the employer or send it via fax. When a resident is offered an interview, they have the opportunity to attend the interview alone or ask staff to accompany them.
Job Fairs and Job Club
Residents also attend job fairs which vary month to month. Most of the job fairs the residents attend allow them to interview on the spot with their resume in hand.
Job club was designed to bring in individuals to speak with the residents about the jobs available to them and to give them a chance to listen to past residents and other people with disabilities share their experiences on how they found jobs and obtained employment success.
When a resident is offered employment, both the resident and the employer can ask for a job coach. A job coach helps the resident acclimate to the employment environment and the job itself. Most residents ask for a job coach for the first couple of days on a new job. Some ask for a job coach whenever a new responsibility is assigned so that the job coach can work with them and help them until they feel comfortable handling the new responsibility on their own.