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URMC / Strong Center for Developmental Disabilities / SCDD Connections Blog / January 2017 / Project SEARCH Intern Spotlight - Meet Emily

Project SEARCH Intern Spotlight - Meet Emily

Project SEARCH®, founded in 1994 at Cincinnati Children's Hospital, is a nationally and internationally recognized program for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) who are interested in training and preparation for competitive employment. It is a one-year high school transition program for 18-21 year olds that is totally immersed in a large business. The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) has hosted a Project SEARCH program since 2009 in partnership with BOCES 2, the Arc of Monroe, ACCES-VR, and OPWDD.

SCDD serves as the statewide coordinator for Project SEARCH in New York State. The B. Thomas Golisano Foundation and SCDD brought Project SEARCH to the Greater Rochester area and provided the funding to develop local partnerships. The cornerstone of Project SEARCH lies with the training placements (internships). The goal is competitive employment, and these training opportunities are a means to provide students with work experience that will prepare them for the workforce. For more information on Project SEARCH, email Kaitlyn Richardson.

To give life to Project SEARCH at URMC we’ve interviewed Emily, a current intern in the NICU.

How are things going for you in Project SEARCH?
Things are going pretty good! I really like it here. I am hoping to get a job in the hospital when Project SEARCH is done. Everyone I work with in the NICU is very nice. They don’t mind if I ask questions. Here they’re like, “If you have a question just ask”. I’m more of a visual learner, so I ask and they show me how to do things.

Tell me about your internship in the NICU. What do you do?
I get there right before 9. I do linen first. I pick up linen in each of the babies rooms. I remember all of the rooms and I don’t need a list. Then I do binkies and bottles. I do have a list for that. There is a special dishwasher I use for those. Then I fold the clean linen and restock. In my free time I clean up the storage room and check the phones to make sure they’re plugged in. I’m really good at keeping myself busy.

What has been challenging for you in Project SEARCH?
There is classroom time in Project SEARCH. That is a little bit tough for me. Everyone learns at different speeds. Also sometimes the NICU is sad. But I’m really proud of what I do.

Competitive employment is the goal of Project SEARCH. If you were meeting with a potential employer and they asked you, “Why should I hire you?” what would you say?
I’m a fast learner. Project SEARCH has given me a lot of confidence. I am easy to work with. If someone asks me for an opinion, I know how to say things without making people upset. I show people that I care. I tell people how I feel, but I’m always respectful.

What would you say to another student thinking about applying to Project SEARCH?
I would recommend ‘yes’ to Project SEARCH. They push you to your limits, but they teach you control. If you need to work on stuff, they teach you how to work on the skills you need to get a job. You need to take it all seriously.

We also had the chance to talk to Emily’s instructors and job coaches. The Project SEARCH staff provides the supports and accommodations needed to help each student to be successful.

Project SEARCH Staff Were Asked: How is Emily doing this year at Project SEARCH?
She is doing a very good job all around and is a leader. She does a tremendous job on the worksite. She has a very strong work ethic and is building a strong foundation of skills through Project SEARCH. This will allow Emily to be successful with her career in the future. She is truly one of the strongest interns to come through the program skill wise. She has a tough exterior, but is compassionate and that has shined in the NICU internship.


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