First class of interns graduate from new workplace preparation program
Jackson, Mich. – Seven young adults from the Kit Young Center became the first graduates of a new program that is helping people with disabilities get real work experience.
Project SEARCH held a graduation ceremony at the Consumers Energy facility on Parnell Road on Friday, May 31. The event was a chance to celebrate the accomplishments of the seven interns involved in the program, which is a new partnership between the Jackson-based utility and the Jackson County Intermediate School District. Those seven interns are: Michael Castle, Michelle Gage, Jakob Handy, Allyson Ide, Precious Johnson, Robert Mitchell and Aaron Sanders-VanDyke.
Over the course of 30 weeks, the students teamed up with Consumers Energy employees to learn different facets of the utility business. They were spread out through several departments, including Facilities and Maintenance, Financial Planning and Operations, Metering & Regulation and Customer Energy Management. In addition to classroom instruction, they worked alongside with Skills Trainers and Mentors, assisting in daily tasks to give them a real feel of what it’s like to work at Consumers Energy.
“We are so proud of how far our students have come,” said JCISD Administrator Melissa Weaver. “These seven students are an inspiration for our future Project SEARCH interns – congratulations to them.”
Angela Thompkins, Director of Talent Acquisition, Diversity and Inclusion at Consumers Energy said a program like this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of so many employees. “At Consumers Energy, creating an inclusive environment where everyone can bring their true, authentic and best self is what we strive for,” said Thompkins. “For our coworkers to be so supportive and teach these students and give them valuable skills they can take with them for the rest of their lives is something we are truly grateful for.”
Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Work Skills Corporation and The Bureau of Services for Blind Persons were also instrumental in the success of Project SEARCH.
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