Brandon standing at a prep table in a restaurant kitchen

Brandon Solomon, an 18 year old high school student at the Maryland School for the Blind , who is working his way into the “real world” one job at a time.

The Maryland School for the Blind was gracious enough to relay CareerConnect’s question to Brandon Solomon. Mr. Solomon is an 18 year-old student with a visual impairment who is working hard at a part-time job. He has proven himself and worked with the management and staff to be successful for the team at the Friendly’s restaurant location. In the interview, Mr Solomon will answer some questions about himself, his experiences, and provide some advice for other youth who are blind or visually impaired.

CareerConnect: Could you describe your vision to us?

Brandon: I have macular degeneration, but I can read regular print but 18 point font size is most comfortable.

CareerConnect: What is your job?

Brandon: I work at a Friendly’s Restaurant doing food preparation and putting food into serving sizes

CareerConnect: How many hours do you work per week?

Brandon: I work 8 hours per week

CareerConnect: What is your favorite part of your job?

Brandon: It has given me an opportunity to interact with people I wouldn’t ordinarily interact with. It has helped me develop a comfort level when interacting or communicating with co-workers.

CareerConnect: What is the most important lesson that you learned from your job?

Brandon: How to deal with individual work styles and temperaments of supervisors and co-workers. I’m learning to respect and deal with boundaries more effectively.

CareerConnect: What message would you send to other youth who are blind or visually impaired about working?

Brandon: You need to :

  • Present a sense of self-worth
  • be able to separate work and personal behaviors
  • if you show your employer you are competent, reliable and willing to do the work that needs to be done; he/she may go out of their way to provide even more support and opportunities for growth.

CareerConnect: Are there any job tasks that are more difficult because of your visual impairment?

Brandon: Prior to getting a talking scale to weigh and portion food I needed to use a manual scale which was difficult to read the small tick marks between the numbers. This is one place I feel my willingness, consistency and hard work paid off. I believe my boss purchased a talking scale and other aids for me to help me and make the job easier. Her willingness to do this told me that she considered me worth the investment. During this same time period she offered me 4 more hours during the weekend.

Another area of difficulty is finding what I need in the walk-in refrigerator or walk-in freezer. Though the boxes of food are supposed to be arranged in a certain order (which I have learned). At times, the items are not where they should be for one reason or another. Due to this, it requires that I have to double check all the boxes to be sure I’m pull the right items.

CareerConnect: What are some of your basic job responsibilities during a typical day?

Brandon: My general routine is as follows:

  • Arrange transportation
  • Come to work in uniform
  • Check in on the work time clock
  • Wash my hands
  • Check board to food items needing to be prepped
  • Prioritize order of food being prepped
  • Prep each food
  • Sanitize work area between each type of food
  • Weigh food
  • Put weighed portions in zip-lock bags
  • Check with front staff to see if they need to replenish any of the food items
  • Put remaining bagged portioned food back in box and return to refrigerator or freezer
  • Clean and sweep work area
  • Put dirty dishes and equipment in wash area.
  • If I have extra time I help with dishes.
  • Check-out
  • Pick up ride to return home or school

CareerConnect: How long have you worked for the business?

Brandon: One and a half years

CareerConnect: What is one funny thing that has happened on the job?

Brandon: I primarily work alone and need to really try to stay focused on my work. I occasionally get involved in conversations but can’t think of anything particularly funny to share. I feel I need to be vigilant about maintaining appropriate work/personal boundaries.