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Narrator: Welcome to On Your Mark, Get Set…Go to Work! This is a short video produced by the American Foundation for the Blind and the Braille Institute on the importance of first jobs for young adults with visual impairments.

[Video opens with logos of the American Foundation for the Blind and the Braille Institute.]

Narrator: In this video, your host, Dr. Karen Wolffe, seen here with young people interviewed for this video, talks with high school and college students as well as a few recent college graduates about their first jobs. She also interviews two experienced workers for their insights concerning the importance of their early work experiences. In future video clips, you’ll be able to hear from some of these young adults’ employers, who are also interviewed to find out what attributes encouraged them to hire and keep these first-time workers.

For those who are unable to see this video, please be aware that as each person is introduced, the person’s picture is shown on the screen. During the interview snippets, which follow the introduction, pictures of these same individuals are being shown at their work sites as well as with their co-workers and in a few instances, with their students.

The workers depicted in this video are: Claire Stanley, Cingular sign holder; Ray Kimura, a self-employed pastry chef; Marleena Coulston, choir director and music teacher at Braille Institute; Darren Keepers, general helper at Scrubby Puppy, a dog grooming shop; Ali Faraj, a customer service representative at the Santa Ana Marriott Reservations call center; Katie Zodrow, in training for a similar position with Marriott; Christina Jones, a receptionist at Braille Institute; Erika Gallegos, a teacher’s aide at Blind Children’s Learning Center; Gabby Anaya, a Disney cast member working at a Disneyland restaurant; Drew Hunthausen, a clerical worker at the Huntington Beach Junior Lifeguard Station; Keith Christian, a teacher working with visually impaired elementary students; and Rusty Perez, an English instructor at La Sierra University.

[Video footage: Dr. Karen Wolffe walking with Claire Stanley, Karen walking with Marleena Coulston and Cristina Jones, Karen talking with Gabby Anaya and her boss Jim, and all the others at their jobs: Claire holding a Cingular sign, Ray finishing a pastry, Marleena at the piano, Darren folding towels, Ali on the phone, Christina at her computer, Marlena and Erika with students, Gabby in the kitchen, Drew at the lifeguard station, Keith and Rusty in their classrooms.]

Narrator: Now let’s hear from these young people about getting a first job…

[Video footage: Christina, Claire, Drew, Ray, and Marleena are gathered together in the library at Braille Institute, seated and facing Karen.]

Karen: Let’s start with Marleena. Marleena, would you share a little bit with the group about your early work experiences?

Marleena: Sure! My very first job was actually…my mom had worked in the school system and she worked with the recreation department. She knew some people over there and she talked about me a lot, how I was really involved in the arts, and music. So I was actually approached to start a theatre and music program in a summer camp. And it was a part-time job, and it was really close to my house so I was able to walk to my job. So it was really great, because it was accessible for me to get to work and it was what I love doing, I was working with children and it was definitely in my interests and so that kind of paved the way for my future work experience, and continuing to work with children, in camps as a camp counselor, and now my current job working as a choir teacher at the Braille Institute.

Karen: Thank you very much. Ray, what about your very first jobs?

Ray: My first jobs were in restaurants, I started as a bus boy, and a server and a waiter. But they were never in walking distance, I never had that luxury. [Laughs] I took public buses. I think my longest ride to get to a job was about an hour an a half.

Karen: I understand—that’s a long commute!

Ray: Yeah, but I liked the job so it wasn’t that bad.

Karen: Oh, good. Drew, what was your very first job?

Drew: My very first job was—I worked at the Junior Lifeguard Headquarters in Huntington Beach. It was a great job, I really enjoyed it. I did clerical work for them, organizing things like mailings, and [handouts] they gave to the kids. I really loved that job, not only was I able to help out by doing their clerical work and help out a couple of times a week, but I was able to get in the ocean and a couple of the lifeguards would help me: I swam the pier! And, I did some of the activities the junior lifeguards got to do.

Karen: Great! Thank you very much. Claire, tell us about this first job that you have and how you got it.

Claire: Well, my first form of work experience was actually through Workability through my school, so I did have some prior work experience with office work and stuff like that. But my very first job that I got on my own, completely independent from my school was—my official title was a human directional sign twirler. I was the person who held the big arrow sign in front of Cingular, directing people to come to our store. That was a lot of fun.

Karen: And how did you find out about that job?

Claire: Just through basic advertising; my mom had seen a sign. We were over at another store right next to it and we saw a sign advertising a job—it looked like it paid good and I knew there was nothing keeping me from doing that job, no obstacles related to vision impairment. You know, you don’t have to see to hold a sign so I was excited and called the number and got the job!

Karen: Great! And Cristina, how did you get your first paid job?

Cristina: I got my first paid job through the Workability program at school, and I got it here at Braille Institute. And it was basically just office work, and I basically worked as a receptionist. How I got to Braille from school was I took the public bus here, and then every once in a while if my mom felt like it, she would pick me up and then take me home, or I usually took the public bus back home.

Copyright © 2007, American Foundation for the Blind