Michael Herndon had been receiving employment transition services for many years in various programs through Vocational Rehabilitation. He had participated in on-the-job trainings in multiple fields, but nothing seemed to be the right fit. Feeling defeated, Michael gave up and his case with VR was closed.
It wasn’t until a family friend had heard about a new program at BAC that Michael began to show interest, but having his case closed with VR meant he was not going to receive funding to try again.
In March of 2021 Michael met with Sue Basset at BAC who was working on this new training program in collaboration with Codecraft Works called LaunchIT. This program would become the turning point in Michael’s career.
A partnership of BAC and Codecraft Works, LaunchIT combines Codecraft Work’s STEM-based, blended learning approach with BAC’s wraparound services and experience in serving people with unique abilities to provide solutions to two workplace challenges: filling entry-level Information Technology (IT) positions and increasing employment opportunities for people with unique abilities.
The LaunchIT training is conducted via virtual platforms that are accessible to those with unique abilities, including those with visual impairments or who are deaf or hard of hearing. This six-month program is designed for veterans or adults with unique abilities over age 18 who have an interest in a career in the IT industry.
As luck would have it for Michael, BAC’s board of directors had decided that the first graduating class of LaunchIT would be funded by a special scholarship as they were so excited about the opportunities this program would create, and becoming approved for funding through VR takes time.
Over the course of the training, Michael excelled at the technical aspects, earning certifications that would prepare him for a career in IT. However, what set the training apart for him was the wrap around services provided by BAC to include trainings on social interactions, workplace etiquette and how to position yourself through your resume and at a job interview.
“The addition of BAC’s services to the Codecraft Works technical tracks will provide the added level of support, customized training and wrap-around services that will be the key difference for our participants with disabilities to thrive. Our ultimate goal is to provide a pipeline of highly qualified entry-level employees who are ready and willing to fill IT support roles, with both the technical and soft skills employers tell us they are looking for in team members with or without disabilities.”
When Michael graduated from the program in August of the same year, he was asked what LaunchIT meant to him, he replied simply, “reaching one’s maximum potential”.
He went on to do a short on-the-job training with Auticon from October through November before the opportunity for full time, permanent employment came up through a call center performing Tier I help support back at BAC.
Michael knew the culture at BAC would be a good fit for him, but he did not want to work full time, and the thought of talking to strangers on the phone was enough for him to second guess this opportunity. He remarked that talking to people “is not something I do naturally”. But with the encouragement of the LaunchIT team and the self-confidence he had built in the LaunchIT program, Michael applied for the position, seeking a part-time role.
While the request to only work part-time was accommodated and planned for in his initial job interview and job offer, Michael has evolved with his employment, and his priorities have shifted. Today, not only is Michael employed full-time, receiving a competitive paycheck, but he has become a natural leader. His co-workers often come to him for assistance and Michael is always willing to help. He has even talked to his supervisor about applying for a team lead position the next time one opens up.
We are very excited to see just how much Michael can accomplish in his new career.
Read More About Michael’s Journey at SourceAmerica