Impact Feature Issue on Stories of Advocacy, Stories of Change from People with Disabilities, Their Families, and Allies (1988-2013)

Advancing My Career (Part 1, 2000)

All people, regardless of their disabilities, should have the opportunity for integrated, paid work. In the year 2000, this was one of the principles guiding the San Francisco organization WorkLink, along with its parent organization TransCen. That principle was illustrated in the story below from that year’s Impact issue on postsecondary education supports for students with disabilities. Alvin Toy, who was participating in WorkLink at that time, was one of a growing number of young adults with disabilities receiving assistance with the school-to-work transition, along with postsecondary on-the-job training and supports.

My name is Alvin Toy. I’m 28 years old. I live in San Francisco and graduated from high school in 1993. I was in a transition classroom. We tried a lot of different jobs to see what we liked to do for work. One year I worked for a restaurant, the next year I worked for the California Transportation Department, and then a science museum.

Before I graduated, my transition teacher found me a paid job in a music/video store. I had a job coach from the school who helped me learn to alphabetize videos and file CDs. After I graduated from high school, TransCen gave me a new job coach. I love machines and computers. My new job coach helped me learn to use computers to check in the “drop box,” open new accounts, and check-out videos at the store. When I got really good they taught me how to use the Bass ticket system; printing tickets was pretty hard.

I worked at the store for four years – that was enough CDs and videos for me! I wanted something different. I talked with my job coach about all the things I wanted to do. I wanted to find a new job where I could use computers and machines. We interviewed at a few places. Interviewing can be scary, but my job coach went with me. I found a fun job at an investment company.

The company buys and sells “properties” – huge malls and buildings. At my new job I could use all the things I learned at the video store. Instead of videos and CDs, I’m filing papers. Instead of setting up customer accounts, I am using the computer to do all kinds of jobs. I have my own e-mail at work. I have learned to use photocopiers, fax machines, and postage meters. I deliver faxes and packages all over the offices and put together press kits. My job coach helped me learn these things and helped me take a computer class at City College to help me use computers better. Now I’m working full time. It gets pretty stressful when photocopiers break down, but this job pays good. I’m spending all my money on gadgets and gizmos. My room is full!

I like having a job coach. If there are any problems or emergencies, I have someone to call. They really helped me learn to do complicated copy jobs. They taught me how to put the papers upside down so I don’t lose my place.

My advice to people just getting a job is don’t be scared. Working is fun once you get used to it.

This article was published in Impact: Feature Issue on Postsecondary Education Supports for Students with Disabilities, in the year 2000. At that time, Alvin Toy was living and working in San Francisco.