The Urban Autism Solutions jobs team knew immediately that Alejandro, 21, a student at the Ray Graham Training Center, was a great candidate for competitive employment. Alejandro has excellent communication skills and was eager to start working and earning a paycheck.
ABOVE: Alejandro brings in carts at Walmart Neighborhood Market.
“This student was really ready to work,” says Mike Tracy, co-founder and community outreach manager at Urban Autism Solutions. “He has an incredible attitude, and once he started working, his strong work ethic really showed.”
Mike and his team help job-ready students who have participated in programs at the UAS West Side Transition Academy obtain jobs in the community. The Academy provides services to help West Side CPS high school transition students prepare for the transition from high school to adulthood, including speech-language therapy, social-emotional and communication skills building and job readiness training.
Mike helped Alejandro get a job at the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Little Village. Mike helped another student who participated in programming at the UAS West Side Transition Academy, Elvis, get a job at the same store last year. Elvis has been working at the store since January 2021. Alejandro started in January 2022.
Alejandro brings in carts from the parking lot at the busy grocery store. With just a few minutes left on his shift, Alejandro can be seen walking to the farthest corners of the parking lot to round up every last cart.
Alejandro says the best part of his job is learning new skills, and earning a paycheck. “I want to save up my money to buy my cousins dinner when they visit in a few months,” he says.
Alejandro likes his job at Walmart, but says in the future, he’d like to work in an office. For now, he works at the store on weekends, and sometimes on Friday. He will age out of school at the end of the year when he turns 22 years.
“I think he’s well set-up for life after school,” says Mike. “With his enthusiasm and desire to work, I think he’ll be an excellent employee no matter what he’s doing.”