Employee of the Month: One Young Man’s Employment Journey

Meet Alex Lourenco, a 31-year-old man whose friends and family describe as considerate, conscientious, and determined. During his free time, Alex enjoys going to bowling practice, out for lunch, browsing stores like EB Games and GameStop, and attending Code Ninja classes where he develops his own computer games. During the week, however, he is a diligent and focused employee at Adaptall; a manufacturing company specializing in conversion of threaded hydraulic adapters and fittings. Alex was diagnosed with a developmental delay and has used his unique strengths to find and pursue a career that he finds rewarding.

Alex didn’t always envision himself working in manufacturing or even having the abilities required to hold a job. When asked what he wanted to be growing up, Alex said that he hadn’t really given it much thought. Alex’s parents, Rose and Arthur Lourenco, knew that he had the ability to get out into the workforce, but had to take an active role in helping him to get training and find a job. “School didn’t really help us in that respect,” said Rose. Alex’s parents considered how they could help Alex gain valuable experience that he could use to find a job and to list on a resume. Arthur noticed that Alex had the mechanical ability to work with his hands so upon this realization, Arthur took Alex and gave him a job in his company.  “This gave Alex experience in an industrial setting,” shared Rose. Arthur worked in a factory setting where Alex learned to operate automated machines to create metal parts. The opportunity allowed Alex to develop both his technical and soft skills that he could reference on his resume. He learned how to use personal protective equipment safely and operate different types of automated machinery. He also learned how to manage his time to be punctual, converse with coworkers, and respond to direction from a manager.

Eventually, Arthur’s career took him in a different path and he left that company. Due to travel issues, Alex had to find a new job as well. Rose and Arthur knew that reference letters would be a valuable tool as Alex searched for his next job, so before leaving, he received reference letters from his colleagues. Glowing reviews in hand, but unsure of where to go next, Alex’s parents reached out for support. “We contacted Community Living to see what they could obtain for Alex.”

Community Living offers employment services for individuals with intellectual disabilities to help them prepare for and secure work. Alex developed a resume with the help of his parents and a Community Living staff member helped him rehearse his answers to common interview questions. To ensure Alex could be independent in his professional life, Rose requested that any potential workplaces be close to home so that Alex could walk or take a bus to get there. With this in mind, Community Living sent out Alex’s resume and reference letters on his behalf to a variety of companies in the area.

Alex had a couple of interviews, one of which was with Adaptall. Alex met all the criteria for a position assembling products and he was hired on a part-time basis to start. Alex works in the capping department, putting o-rings, plastic caps, and seals on metal hydraulic adapters. Alex further explains, “I assemble products, make boxes, even packing some items into ‘kits’.” Within a short period of time, Alex went from part-time to full-time employment and has been with the company for over 8 years now.

Alex’s present manager, Dorota Buchowska, describes him as a polite, knowledgeable, focused and precise employee. Although Alex works primarily in the capping department, Dorota shares that Alex is happy to help with whatever tasks are needed each day. “I’m going to call him the employee of the month!”

Dorota supports Alex at work by providing routine and recognizing when a specific task may not be appropriate. For example, Alex can struggle with counting out a specific number of items and Dorota can’t be sure that he would do that task correctly. She assigns tasks involving counting to other employees and instead, assigns Alex to tasks like putting labels on packages or moving materials. Flexibility in how job tasks are assigned across employees has offered Alex and his coworkers the opportunity to leverage their individual strengths.

When asked what he likes most about working at Adaptall, Alex immediately mentioned the special events. The company holds holiday parties, birthday celebrations, and Pizza Fridays. Alex even brings in treats occasionally to share with his coworkers. Alex also mentioned, “Sometimes the other boss named Mike will be handing out a bonus.” Mike Rennie is the General Manager at Adaptall. When a monthly work quota is met, Mike provides employees with a monetary bonus for supporting to meet that goal. This is just one example of how Adaptall demonstrates its commitment to employee well-being and equality in the workplace.

Rose and Arthur share their advice for parents who are helping their children enter the workforce. “Encourage your kids and don’t be afraid. Practice the interviews. There are typical questions that the employer will ask. Practice them with your child at home. Communicate with the workplace if there are any issues with performance.” 

Dorota’s comment to other organizations who are not yet employing individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities is this: “I am really happy with [Alex]. He is always on time and doing his job. What more can you ask?”

Alex’s story showcases the benefits of inclusion and diversity in the workplace for not only individuals, but organizations as a whole. By identifying your child’s unique strengths, getting creative to help them obtain valuable hands-on experience, and working with organizations who have an established network, you can help your child to land that perfect job too.

​​Are you preparing to enter the job market? Reach out to us at admin@kerrymaisels.com to find out how we can help!