People who love to hunt, fish and boat in our community almost certainly know Jalensky’s Outdoors & Marine, one of the largest outdoor sporting goods store in southeastern Wisconsin.

One such person with a passion for the outdoors is a young man who was transitioning out of high school and a participant in Careers Industries’ Partners in Integrated Employment program. With support from the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, Partners in Integrated Employment provides job training and employment opportunities for adults with disabilities and matches employers with qualified talent.

Because of this young man’s love of the outdoors and the skills he had to offer, we thought an internship at an outdoor retailer would be a great fit.

“Careers Industries asked if I would be interested in their program because they had a candidate who loved to hunt and fish, and they asked us to give him an opportunity to show us what he could do,” says Tim Hart, manager of Jalensky’s. “I think sometimes people are afraid they might have trouble communicating with a person with disabilities, but they have so many good qualities. For someone like this young man, having a chance to show those skills and qualities can be life-changing.”

The three-month internship (funded by DVR) was from April to July. The intern was supported on site by job coaches from Careers Industries, an aspect of the Partners in Integrated Employment program that benefits both participants and employers. Hart says from the beginning it was obvious this young man had a lot of energy and was always giving 110 percent.

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“Giving him a chance to learn new things and do things he would not normally get to do was a real boost to him, and we were all pleased to see how he developed during his time here,” says Hart. “He did anything we asked. Once he did something one time he knew to do it again and was always asking for more tasks.” Internship responsibilities included greeting customers and observing the sales process; general cleaning duties; counting bait; and restocking merchandise according to UPCs.

Hart says the day the internship ended was one of the toughest days he’s ever had as a manager. While the intern had become a valued member of the team, his skills and qualifications were not a match for a permanent staff position. Yet, Hart says, “I’d hire him again in a minute if I had the right position. I know he will find the right fit because he has great skills, he wants to work and he wants to make something of himself.”

Hart is also proud that Jalensky’s had the opportunity to provide meaningful feedback to Careers Industries and the Partners in Integrated Employment program. The interaction among interns, employers and Careers Industries, the ongoing contact, check-in meetings and more help further advance the program and its participants because every experience offers new opportunities to learn and grow. “Over the time I have been in my position I can say it’s not any harder or different to train someone who comes through the Partners in Integrated Employment program,” says Hart. “And it doesn’t cost anything to give someone a chance. I would tell anyone, if it works for their business, to give it a try.”

To learn more about the business benefits of recruiting employees through Careers Industries and Department of Vocational Rehabilitation including tax credit opportunities, contact Careers Industries at 262-752-4100.

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