Eddie: Finding the Right Role at Work

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Background

Eddie Alley has worked at Little Caesars, the pizza restaurant chain, since last summer. Several factors helped Eddie to find a position that was a good fit. First, he participated in a job tryout before he started to work. Also, he and his employer were flexible and willing to try new things. Finally, the employer had a long and positive connection with Eddie's job developer.

What's Important

Eddie had worked at Red Cross maintaining/cleaning the CPR equipment for seven years. When he was laid off due to budget cuts, he was disappointed. However, he hoped that he might find a job he liked better, where he could work around other people and do a variety of tasks. Eddie also wanted to be paid more and work for more hours.

Shortly after Eddie began his job search, Gale, the district manager of several Little Caesars restaurants, called Eddie's job developer, Aaron. Gale had worked with Aaron before to find new employees. This time, she asked if he knew anyone who could make pizza dough. Aaron thought that this job might be appealing to Eddie.

Gale and Eddie agreed to a week-long work assessment, or job tryout. Eddie would try out the job for a total of 25 hours, learning to make pizza dough and seeing if he liked the work environment. This was a time for Gale and the other employees to see if Eddie and the workplace were a good fit.

The work environment seemed right for Eddie, but making pizza dough was difficult for him. Luckily, the chance came up to switch jobs with another employee. The other employee was a sign-dancer. That means that she worked outside, shaking a sign and dancing to get people to come to the restaurant. She wanted to work indoors instead.

Aaron, Eddie, and Gale talked about whether Eddie might like to do this sign-dancer job. Eddie said he would like to try it, and Gale and Aaron showed him what to do. Eddie liked sign-dancing right away, and is still doing it today. In fact, he enjoys sign-dancing so much that he will stay out in all kinds of weather. Once, other employees had to ask him to come in for his own safety when the weather was bad.

Eddie spends some time doing indoor tasks too. He has learned new skills, such as bagging breadsticks, taking pizzas out of the oven safely, and placing toppings on pizzas. When Gale offered him the chance to learn these tasks, Eddie was nervous at first, but Aaron and the other staff encouraged him.

What Happened

Eddie works from four to seven from Wednesday through Sunday and makes $8.75 per hour. Recently, he was excited that he got a raise for the first time at any job. He likes the combination of working by himself outside, interacting with people he attracts to Little Caesars, and working around other people indoors.

Some of Eddie's coworkers were concerned when the dough-making task did not work out. But since then, they've seen him learn to do other tasks very well. Eddie's confidence grew as his coworkers showed him that he was part of their team. Now, he says there's nothing he doesn't like about his job.

Lessons Learned

For individuals
Losing a job can be disappointing, but it may also provide a new opportunity to grow. Be open to making some changes, such as learning new skills or trying interesting new jobs. If part of your job is working at a task that you don't enjoy or aren't good at, ask the employer if it's possible to help out with a different task at the workplace

For job developers Seek out work assessments or job tryouts as an opportunity to learn about an individual's preferences. Use those opportunities to assess the fit of both the work environment and the job tasks. For Eddie, the work assessment revealed that the original job (making dough) was not a good fit, but also opened the door for other opportunities. Job tryouts can be for a specific job, or serve as a situational assessment as part of the career planning process.

Build strong relationships with employers. These relationships build employers' trust. This helps them stay committed to matching tasks that need to get done with individuals who need jobs.

For more information, contact:
Aaron Stone, Work Opportunities Unlimited
(207) 782-4242