Students’ First Step Toward Successful Job Placement Is Goodwill Work Experience
Many people know Goodwill Industries, Inc., Serving Eastern Nebraska and Southwest Iowa, as a place to donate used clothing and household items or find great bargains. But you might not know the mission at the heart of our organization: providing job training and placement services to people with disabilities and other disadvantages or barriers to employment. The sale of donated items sold in Goodwill retail stores supports our mission programs, including the Goodwill Work Experience program.
Here’s how Goodwill Omaha works for the community: People donate gently used items to Goodwill. We sell those donated items in our retail stores. The proceeds from those sales subsidize our mission programs, giving thousands of individuals in the Omaha area the chance to earn a living, discover independence and succeed in life.
For high school special-education students, Goodwill Omaha’s Work Experience program can be the first step toward successful job placement. For more than 55 years, Goodwill Work Experience has offered students nearing the completion of high school an opportunity to gain exposure to work situations in supportive, positive environments. Goodwill Work Experience trainers work with students and assign them jobs within the Goodwill Omaha organization. Trainers monitor students’ progress throughout the school year and work with the students’ parents or guardians and referrer.
By coming to work at Goodwill daily, students take the first step in making the transition from an educational setting to the professional working world. Students are referred to Work Experience by their school districts and have the opportunity to work a variety of jobs within the Goodwill organization.
Who Should Apply to Goodwill Work Experience?
Work Experience candidates typically are students nearing the end of their academic careers and are referred to Goodwill Omaha by their school district’s transition or special-education programs. Students must be medically stable and able to self-administer any medications they require. They also must be able to carry out all activities of daily living independently, or have arrangements made for assistance and transportation prior to admission to Goodwill’s Work Experience program.
Work Experience candidates should be motivated to comply with the program, and any maladaptive social behavior must be under reasonable control to prevent interference with Goodwill’s program and agency operations. Work Experience candidates should have no evidence of violent activity within the last 90 days.
Once Goodwill Omaha determines a student is a good fit for Work Experience, the student, their parents or guardian, and an interdisciplinary team determine whether they choose to participate in Goodwill’s Work Experience program.
In addition to face-to-face staffing meetings that take place twice a year, Goodwill Omaha provides student progress reports to referral sources and parents or guardians. During these meetings, the Goodwill team reviews the activities the student has participated in; addresses areas of growth and concern; and discusses and assesses the student’s work goals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is a good candidate for Goodwill Work Experience?
Typically, Work Experience candidates are high school students in their senior year whom participating high schools identify as appropriate referrals for the program. The student, their parents/guardian, and their interdisciplinary team then determine whether Work Experience is right for the student. Students must be medically stable and able to self-administer all medications. They also must be independent in or have arrangements made for all activities of daily living; make transportation arrangements prior to admission; and meet all other criteria for admission to Goodwill programs.
What do students do while enrolled in Work Experience?
Students are assigned to jobs within the Goodwill Omaha organization. Work areas may include clerical, commercial contracts, custodial, production and retail. In these job assignments, students perform the duties that would be expected of a permanent employee under the guidance of an on-site supervisor and the direction of a Work Experience trainer. Accommodations are made to adjust the job to the specific needs of each student and to account for any special needs.
What is the duration of the Work Experience program?
Students typically participate in the Goodwill Work Experience program daily throughout their senior year; however, please be advised that times can vary. A schedule is determined and permitted students to participate in academic classes required to meet their graduation requirements, while still allowing time for involvement in work activities. Upon completion of program, Goodwill Omaha’ team students are assisted with job placement.
Are Work Experience students paid for their work completed during the programs?
Students earn minimum wage while gaining valuable vocational training in the in the Work Experience program.
How is the student’s progress monitored?
Work Experience students work in the same area for six to eight weeks. At the end of each Work Experience program rotation, a progress staffing is conducted. At that time a general report is given regarding the activities in which the student has participated, areas of growth and concern are discussed, decisions are made regarding the work assignment and suggested goals and objectives are proposed.
Goodwill Work Experience General Admission Criteria
- Must have an identifiable and documented vocational disadvantaging condition
- Must be between the ages of 16 and 21
- Must be able to independently care for personal needs (with or without the support of a physical care attendant)
- Must be motivated to comply with the program to which admission is being requested
- Any maladaptive social behavior must be under reasonable control to prevent interference with program/agency operations
- No evidence of violent activity within the last 90 days (P&P 210)
- Must have living and transportation accommodations established prior to enrollment
- IQ in excess of 36