When the focus of Shoreline’s Community Integration Employment Program (CIEP) shifted recently from helping students with barriers to employment develop job skills to actually helping place students in employment opportunities, CIEP Program Manager Rosemary Dunne looked to Shoreline’s campus community for help in fulfilling the program’s new mission.
“An obvious place to look is our campus,” said Dunne. “Many of our students really like being on campus and being part of this community, so to honor their wishes we reached out to the campus to find paid employment and real life work experience opportunities for them onsite.”
The response, said Dunne, has been encouraging. “There are many areas and departments at Shoreline who’ve been very receptive and creative in working with us. It’s not always easy to do when everyone’s time crunched and looking at the bottom line, but these departments recognize it’s the right thing to do to make that extra step to find space for our students.”
The bookstore is one such department, currently employing three CIEP students.
“The Bookstore in particular has always been very supportive of our program,” said Dunne. “That legacy started with Mary Kellemen (Former Executive Director of Auxiliary and Logistical Services) and has really been carried on wholeheartedly by Leah Pearce (Director, Bookstore) and her amazing staff. Their whole team has been really supportive in creating opportunities for our students with a ‘no problem’ attitude.”
Placing CIEP students in jobs involves being creative with duties and recognizing the worth of the contribution that marginalized populations can make in the workplace. “CIEP students have a range of barriers to employment,” said Dunne, “but that allows people to start thinking outside of the box about how they can recognize and reward each student’s unique skillset.”
Instead of assigning CIEP students a full spectrum of job responsibilities, the goal is to carve out a portion of duties a student can reasonably be expected to accomplish.
For example, Morgan Evert, a CIEP student who’s worked in the bookstore since May of 2015, excels at organizing so she handles duties that encompass those skills. Evert shelves or “faces” books, helps students find what they’re looking for and keeps spaces and equipment clean.
“I really like working in the bookstore,” said Evert. “Everyone is really nice and fun to talk to. And I like working on campus and being able to take part in the fun activities that are always going on because this is a pretty cool college. And it just wouldn’t work very well for me to be working off campus because it would take me too much time to get to and from work and school.”
Examples of CIEP students making meaningful contributions across campus abound. Lancer’s Catering Manager, Jennifer Berlin, recently hired a CIEP student to help with lunchtime rush. Mary Bonar, Program Manager for Visual Arts, is hiring a CIEP student as a lab assistant. And Patty Jones, advisor for The Ebbtide, has supported several meaningful work experiences for CIEP students over the past couple of years, including hiring one student as an Op-Ed writer.
In addition, the Deep Roots Community and Student Leadership continue to embrace CIEP students and provide them valuable work experience.
According to Dunne, the reward to the employing department is immeasurable. “Having a CIEP student around helps boost both morale and work ethic,” she said. “When you see that someone with multiple barriers can come to work and get it done, you realize you can as well and your whole attitude tends to change.”
Of course the goal isn’t to employ the entire program’s roster of 20 students on campus, but rather to honor each individual student’s wish.
“We have several students employed off campus in the larger community,” said Dunne, “but this is a very vulnerable population so it makes sense that many would want to work on campus where they know people, where their support system is and where they feel safe. This is their community, and they want to be a part of it and valued by it.”
In honor of Disability Employment Awareness Month, Dunne and the CIEP program want to thank the following departments who have shown support for CIEP’s mission, either by employing students or beginning the conversation as to how they can employ students:
Mary Kelleman, Leah Pearce, and the entire Bookstore Staff
Jennifer Berlin – Lancer Hospitality
Mary Bonar – Visual Arts
Steve Eskridge and Kathy Langer – Athletics
Tasleem Quasim – Education
Patty Jones – The Ebbtide
The Deep Roots Community
The Student Leadership Center