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Vocational Spotlight | Youth Work Program

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Although Special Tree client DeAndre just graduated from high school, he has done light assembly work, worked as a peer mentor in Special Tree’s Discover Summer program, and held community-based jobs at Hollywood Market and Buffalo Wild Wings.  How did he build up such an impressive work history by the age of 18? 

At Special Tree, younger clients like DeAndre first begin developing their employability skills through the Discover Summer Youth Work Program.  Every day throughout out the 10-week pediatric therapy program, teens ages 14 and up participate in various pre-vocational job training experiences.  “We encourage our teen clients to work during the summer,” said Tara Forster, Special Tree Vocational Counselor.  “It helps them to start building a creditable work history as well as transferable skills which puts them at an advantage compared to many other teens their age.”

Teens in the program try out a variety of jobs including light assembly work at the InPro Enterprises Industrial Operations Center, interior and exterior car detailing through the “Ready to Shine” car wash, peer mentoring for Discover Summer, community-based work at Continental Canteen, and creating sellable work in Special Tree’s Creative Arts Studio, Greenhouse, and Wood Shop. 

According to Tara, the ultimate goal of all of these work experiences is to help teens learn the skills to get and keep a job such as proper work etiquette, managing their time, handling money, interacting with customers, and managing their paycheck.

“DeAndre is a great example of how teens can apply the pre-vocational skills they learn in the Youth Work Program to find community-based employment,” said Tara.  “Those skills helped DeAndrea to obtain and maintain employment as a Deli Clerk at a local grocery store and later as a Line Cook at Buffalo Wild Wings (BWW), where he currently works.”     

According to Tara, DeAndre enjoys working at  BWW and recently increased his hours. He's decided to delay college for now to focus on his career goal to become a tatto artist.