Don’t Count Yourself Out: Andrew’s Story

Job Placement client looking at camera at modified CNC workstationWe love to hear about our clients’ successes. Recently, Linda Oxford, Director of Job Placement, received an update from Andrew, a 27-year-old client who found a career as a CNC machinist.

A Perfect Match

Andrew came to CPRF’s Job Placement program in August 2018 as a referral from the State of Kansas Vocation Rehabilitation Department. He had just completed a series of CNC courses at WSU Tech, and was looking for employment in a machine shop setting. He wanted to work with his hands in a role that was accessible and not too physically strenuous, and Oxford felt that Center Industries Corporation (CIC) was the perfect place for Andrew.

It only took a single meeting for Andrew to impress CIC Human Resources, and he was immediately offered a Community-Based-Job-Try-Out. Through this experience, Andrew was able to get a feel for the work atmosphere and his prospective position for two weeks. The try-out process is an important incentive that the CPRF Job Placement program offers to potential employers and candidates alike – allowing both parties to make sure the job is a good fit, at no commitment or expense.

Amber Smith, CNC Manager, also took notice of Andrew’s ambition from the start.

“He had a wonderful attitude, and his personality was the first thing that I really honed in on,” she said.

Andrew has been at CIC for more than a year now as a CNC Machinist. In his role, detail and quality are imperative, with daily project quotas to meet. He gets to work with his hands every day, and he is thrilled to be on first shift. Andrew has become at home with the rest of the CNC crew, and Amber loves having him on her team.

“He’s a little jokester, and everybody on the floor kind of is too…we’re like a small family out there,” said Smith. “He just fits right in with the rest of us, which is major when you’re such a small crew. He’s just part of our team— right out the gate he just fit right in.”

Andrew also had some advice for anyone with a disability in the job search process:

“No matter your physical ability, do not count yourself out for anything. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. That’s what I’m learning,” he said. “At first when I got here I was like ‘Oh man, I can only run one machine,’ but this company in general has worked with me to build me other lifts and ramps so I can access more than one machine at a time.”

Photo Collage of Job Placement Client working at Center Industries

Having a career and a routine have greatly impacted Andrew’s self-esteem, social capital, and financial freedom.

“Working definitely brings you back to that normality. If it’s something new to you (the disability), I would definitely say that.  Because that was an issue with me. I was staying home a lot, and that can definitely put you in a place you don’t want to be mentally,” said Andrew. “You can become independent…and that’s what it really is at the end of the day. That made me the happiest myself. To gain that independence.”

Investing In Talent

When it comes to hiring a diverse workforce, CIC has set the bar high. They invest in their workforce by making workstations accessible and focusing on creating accommodations for their staff.

“We should all be striving to give everyone an opportunity… anything we can do to accommodate,” said Smith. “I just think it’s awesome that we can provide that for somebody.”

Andrew has two customized workstations: one with a wheelchair ramp and platform that allows him to easily access his CNC machine and work table while seated, and an adjustable hydraulic lift and platform combination that sits in front of his CNC machine.

“It is very adaptable here. They meet my needs in so many ways, which I thought would be a difficulty with a job. They just make it a great place for me to work in general…with the proper ideas as an employer you can make anything happen,” he said. “And you might have one of your hardest workers right there because they’re willing to put in that extra effort.”

Visit our Job Placement page for more information on how we can help start your career search.