National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Internships at Steamers

In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we will be sharing stories about Steamers’ employees through the month of October. Preparation for employment begins long before filling out an application and interviewing for a job. For people of all abilities, skill building starts in the classroom. Special Education programs are emphasizing the importance of preparing for employment more and more by using classroom time to teach transferable skills, from how to effectively communicate with others to what information will be needed on job applications. Transition programs for people with disabilities are also helpful in identifying options for students after high school. Each year, students with disabilities from local high schools complete internships at Steamers. They come to us for the year and learn valuable job skills that will help them transition out of high school and into competitive employment. Throughout their time at Steamers, these students learn knife and kitchen safety skills, the importance of keeping a clean working space, and how to portion meat and roll sliders. They help make jam and prepare guacamole and salsa. We also teach soft skills, which are the most necessary for employment and transferable across settings. Students work on effective communication: how to notify a supervisor they will be absent, how to communicate with peers, and work on a team. We teach ways to ask for help, if assigned an unfamiliar work task and tools for managing frustrations. Most importantly, we celebrate successes big and small along the way. This year, one of Steamers’ high school interns, Ethan, is the brother of another familiar face around the restaurant, Josh. Josh has been a line cook at Steamers since March 2015. Ethan had been to Steamers and Jack’s before, but only as a customer or to visit his brother. When asked why he wanted to do an internship at Steamers and Jack’s, Ethan said “to see what new things I can do, while I’m still in school.” He continued to say that he hoped his time working in the Prep Kitchen would help him get his dream job in the future: racing cars. Josh echoed Ethan, saying that he hoped his brother will “learn some new life skills and work hard, like our dad did.” The two brothers went back and forth about what they like to cook together (pasta, pizza, and steaks) to how they like to have fun, when they are…