For Colton Head, gaining confidence and becoming more assertive are important steps toward achieving real life work experience. To reach those steps, he began participating in the Vocational Rehabilitation program with the Texas Workforce Commission, and it was here that he learned about the Summer Earn and Learn (SEAL) program, which provides pre-employment transition services to students with disabilities. Colton, born and raised in Austin, recognized the value of the opportunity before him and took it.
After entering SEAL, Colton completed a weeklong Job Readiness Boot Camp led by Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) youth contractor, Goodwill Industries of Central Texas: “I wanted to do it to experience what a job is and how to work,” Colton said. “So, when I am ready to have a job, I will know what to do and be able to work.”
“At the beginning of the program, Colton mentioned wanting to gain more confidence and become more assertive,” said Trent Moore, a grant project supervisor with Goodwill. “He has been doing just that. His growth from the beginning of the program to now has been outstanding.”
Colton—quiet and shy at the program’s beginning—demonstrated remarkable progress as the days went by. During the Boot Camp experience, he led small group discussions and presented ideas to the larger group, and showed positive reinforcement for his fellow group members when they shared their own ideas. With Colton’s enthusiasm, the other participants became more comfortable in participating in group discussions.
Over the summer, Colton received work experience through a job internship with H-E-B in South Austin.
“The thing I enjoyed the most was getting to know the other employees, because when I first got there, I was nervous. But they helped me whenever I needed it,” Colton said.
“They were so sweet to me, and that was nice. It touched my heart,” he added.
“Colton has continued to grow in his internship experience, and has developed many skills,” said Trent. “This newfound confidence was evident in his internship by his strong work ethic and customer-focused mindset.”
Indeed, Colton made such a good impression with his hard work and dedication to customer service, that his H-E-B supervisors want to hire him on full time.
Colton recommended SEAL as a practical solution for other students who want to gain professional experience but are unsure where to begin.
“If you want to experience what a job is, you should do an internship with Goodwill,” he said. “After that experience, you can start applying to jobs and start working, get some money.”
Summer Earn and Learn is a statewide initiative that provides employability skills training and a paid work experience during the summer for students with disabilities, ages 14 to 22. The program increases the availability and effectiveness of services to Texas students with disabilities, and prepares them for a successful transition to postsecondary education and careers.
Are you interested in learning more about SEAL? Visit the Texas Workforce Commission’s Vocational Rehabilitation Services website.