Project Search

Novia Tjoeng, shown here, is a graduate of Project Search, an internship program for young adults with developmental disabilities that is run by Easterseals. Tjoeng did her internship at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee and now works 20 hours a week as a service attendant at the Corner Bakery in Wauwatosa. Andis Co. will host Project Search interns next school year.

STURTEVANT — Andis Co. will be the first Racine County company and first manufacturer to host internships for developmentally disabled adults in Easterseals Southeast Wisconsin’s Project Search.

Project Search is a transition program to train adults with disabilities for employment. The business-led program takes place entirely in a host business from September through early June.

Easterseals plans to place 12 young adults, ages 18-24, at Andis, 1800 Renaissance Blvd., next school year. Project Search Manager Allyson O’Leary said the interns have yet to be selected, and Easterseals is taking applications until March 8.

Project Search is a national program. This internship will be a collaboration between Easterseals, Andis, the state Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Racine Unified School District and the state Department of Health Services.

The interns go through a series of rotations to acquire “competitive, marketable and transferable community employment skills,” Easterseals states.

“Total workplace immersion facilitates a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration and relevant job skills.” Easterseals says 80 percent of the graduates find community-based employment.

Andis is one of the oldest producers of hair clippers and trimmers in the country. Before Andis, in southeastern Wisconsin all Project Search job settings have been Milwaukee-area hospitals, O’Leary said.

Potential future hires

Bob Gleason, Andis vice president for human resources, said the company envisions giving the many different types of job experiences to see where the interns might fit, including: machinery operations; assembly; shipping and materials handling; and janitorial.

Gleason explained why Andis, an employer of more than 600 people here, volunteered to host a Project Search contingent. “No. 1, we’re a pretty community-minded organization,” he said.

“But we also feel it could be a great potential addition to our workforce. … We hope we will end up hiring many of them.”

Andis, which manufactures the vast majority of its products here, has added about 80 employees in the past 12 months, Gleason said.

O’Leary said the Andis opportunity arose because Easterseals works with DVR, which had a connection with Andis.

“The partnership was very effortless,” she said.

The interns work five 6½-hour days a week. In addition to learning job skills, the classroom curriculum includes learning about appropriate interpersonal skills, résumé writing, job searching and applications, understanding company policies and attendance, honesty, and appropriate dress.

An information session about the Project Search internships will be held March 1 at Andis with a 5:30 p.m. presentation, with a tour afterward. For more information contact O’Leary at 262-953-2206.

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