Project Search Enables Graduates to Find Jobs

Finding a job can be tough, but it can be even more challenging for those living with a disability.  A program at CHI St Vincent is giving those individuals the tools and the confidence they need to be successful.

Collin Pearson, 19, is a high school graduate and just like everyone else, he is trying to find his place in the real world. He is getting real-life work experience, thanks to a program called Project Search at CHI St. Vincent in Hot Springs.

“It's a program that was created for young adults with developmental disabilities to allow them a venue to come into to learn transferrable job skills so they can become competitively employed,” said Candice Rhea, Project Search recruiter.

Project Search is new to the Hot Springs campus. In August, nine students were selected for the nine month internship, which helps them in the transition from school to adult life.

“The students come in every morning. They spend an hour with a licensed teacher and they learn all sorts of soft skills. Then they take those skills they learned in the classroom out to their intern sites,” said Rhea.

Whether it is in labor and delivery or human resources, the young adults are getting hands on experience. In some cases, they don't have to wait until graduation to find employment.

“It’s like a new world. You’re not in school anymore,” said Tamar Jernigan.

20-year-old Tamar Jernigan is proof the program is working. Only three months in, he was hired on as a full-time employee at CHI St. Vincent.

“It really wasn't my intention and now I kind of like it,” said Jernigan.  

His experience is giving others in the program, like Pearson, hope for the future.

“I just want to see what I want to be good at,” said Pearson.

Project Search has already proven to be a success in other cities in Arkansas, including Little Rock.  A graduation ceremony for the interns will be held in May.

For more information about the program, please visit Project Search's website.