Approximately 300 high school students with disabilities participated in the regional LIFE Job Summit on April 16, 2014 at the Grand Traverse Resort. Youth from 17 schools within the Traverse Bay Intermediate School District who are members of Learning Independence From Experience (LIFE) were invited to partake in the event.
The goal of the LIFE Job Summit is to teach students how to gain and maintain employment in a hands-on, community oriented environment. “The most important thing I learned at the LIFE Job Summit is to be self-confident, and that I can be successful,” stated John, from Glen Lake.
During the LIFE Job Summit, every student had the opportunity to do a one-on-one mock interview with a professional in the community. Volunteers from various businesses asked each student a series of interview questions, and provided feedback regarding what the student did well and how they could improve. “The mock interview was my favorite session,” reported Chris, a student from Traverse City. “I learned how to dress and act appropriately at an interview,” he said.
In addition to participating in a mock interview, LIFE students attended various breakout sessions throughout the morning to learn employment related skills. Topics included: “Choosing a Career Path: Is College the Right Choice,” “Dealing with Frustration & Conflict on the Job,” “Getting a J-O-B: What Employers Want,” “Jobs, Accommodations, Advocacy, Oh My,” “Finding a Healthy Balance,” “Career Catwalk,” and an interactive game called “Jobardy.”
“The Job Summit gives students the opportunity to learn about job skills, build connections in the community, and participate in a mock interview,” Jessie Bachmann, Program Manager at Disability Network, shared. “We’re connecting students with disabilities to resources and opportunities so they can develop a solid path after high school. We’re boosting self-esteem and giving kids a voice,” she stated.
Numerous businesses, agencies, and community partners were recruited to help with the LIFE Job Summit. Volunteers presented breakout sessions, conducted mock interviews, acted as navigators, and assisted with various tasks. Margaret Robinson, Senior Claims Manager at Hagerty Insurance, brought her team to volunteer at the event. "We were looking for a volunteer opportunity that we could do as a Team with the people within our department at Hagerty. We heard about the LIFE Conference and their need for volunteers for the Mock Interviews, and we knew it would be a perfect fit for our group," she shared. "The LIFE Conference was definitely one of the most fulfilling volunteer opportunities I have been involved in over the years. For days, I thought about some of the conversations I had with the students. A couple of those conversations, I don’t think I will ever forget. It felt great to be able to give each student feedback on their interviewing skills so that they could be better prepared for the real experience," said Margaret.
“We rely heavily on our volunteers to ensure the event is a fun, effective learning experience for our students. We would not have been able to provide this opportunity without their help. Thank you Hagerty, Morsels, Northwestern Michigan College, Crystal Mountain, Michigan Works, Traverse Bay Intermediate School District, Michigan Rehabilitation Services, and to all of our other volunteers who generously donated their time to assist that day. We greatly appreciate your support,” stated Annie Campbell, who organized the event.
Thank You to Our Volunteers: Rachel Mazure (Northwestern Michigan College), Ann Olson (Child & Family Services), Meghan Myers (Crystal Mountain), Phil Kozachik (Disability Network), Christie Jenuwine, Margaret Robinson (Hagerty), Christian Walters (Hagerty), Kay Smith (Hagerty), Karyn Silky (Bureau of Services for Blind Persons), Stephen Shepstone (Hagerty), Faith Kearns (Hagerty), Carol Greilick (Traverse Bay Intermediate School District), Misha Neidorfler (Morsels), Michael Newman (Huntington), Jesica Rubino (Traverse Bay Intermediate School District), Angie Gallo (Hagerty), Chuck Mueller, Todd Key (Hagerty), Chuck Korson (Morsels), Todd Miner (Michigan Rehabilitation Services), Tom Irish, Ken Roehling (Michigan Works), Jane Butzier (Michigan Works), Steve Fisher, Nicole Miller (Michigan Alliance for Families), Jill Thayer (Hagerty), Tiffany Clayton (Hagerty), Danielle Jacobs (Hagerty), Lisa Anderson (Michigan Works), Cheryl Wolfram (Michigan Works), Mike Libby (Traverse Bay Intermediate School District), Lauren Lowes (Hagerty), Yeng Vang (Hagerty), Elissa Preseau (Hagerty), Barb Jones (Hagerty) Lowell Gisel (Disability Network Mid-Michigan), Jennifer Page (Disability Network Mid-Michigan), Lynn Newland (Traverse Bay Intermediate School District), Eric Bachmann (Michigan Rehabilitation Services), Melissa Claramunt (MI Department of Civil Rights), Shane Ballard (Michigan Rehabilitation Services), Wes Cross (Michigan Rehabilitation Services), Dana Venhuizen (Michigan Works), Joan Fitzgibbon, Marcia Limbocker (TBAISD Career Tech Center), Samir Moubarek, Kris Gilmore, Donna Gerhard, Taylor White, Kip Diotte (Michigan Rehabilitation Services), Marlene Plane (Traverse Bay Intermediate School District), Kayla Keenan, Laura Keenan, Karen Clark (Michigan Rehabilitation Services), Sue Crossman (Disability Network), Mimi Spaulding (Traverse Bay Intermediate School District, Lisa Woodcox (Disability Network.)
Disability Network hosts two conferences during the school year for high school special education students participating in the LIFE Program—one in the fall semester that focuses on various aspects of transition, and one in the spring that focuses on employment. Students are invited to attend both events in preparation for life after high school. Funding for the program is provided through a partnership between Traverse Bay Intermediate School District, Michigan Rehabilitation Services, and Disability Network Northern Michigan. For more information about LIFE, or to learn how you can get involved, contact Jessie Bachmann at 231.922.0903, ext. 13.
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