Vocational Assessment Leads to Jobs in More Ways Than One

Tristan Cox with manager Craig Porter at Tristan's new job at the Oak Ridge Bowling Center.

Tristan Cox with manager Craig Porter at Tristan's new job at the Oak Ridge Bowling Center.

Tristan Cox is 21 years old and loves reading about history, science, fantasy and science-fiction. After unsuccessfully trying to find employment on his own, he came to the Goodwill Employment Training and Rehabilitation (ET&R) Center in Oak Ridge in hopes of receiving some support. As many clients do, he started first with a Vocational Assessment.

Vocational Assessment is a tool used in Goodwill ET&R programs to determine what kind of work an individual should be considering. Working one-on-one with a Goodwill staff member, clients visit businesses throughout the community; they spend a few hours learning and practicing tasks that would typically be expected in that work environment.

These trial work experiences have proven to be invaluable for many of our clients and the Goodwill staff. Not only does it give the client a taste of working in a realistic setting, but it helps identify the skills and challenges a client faces. Trial work experiences prove to be especially useful for clients with disabilities, as they are able to test their limits and see what setting works best for them. Goodwill staff watches to see where clients thrive so they know what type of environment to look for when helping their clients find jobs in the Placement program.

Tristan’s experience in Vocational Assessment was not quite the norm. When he went to the Oak Ridge Bowling Center for his first trial work experience, he impressed the bowling alley’s manager, Craig Porter, so much that he was immediately offered a job.

“I liked his attitude,” said Craig. “And he’s a perfect fit for what we needed.”

Tristan was excited about the opportunity and happily accepted the position. He will be working part time, mostly before opening hours. His primary duty is cleaning, which he likes. This works perfectly for him, since he has a tendency to become absorbed in his work; in the past, he has had difficulty switching tasks or dealing with interruptions. As he wipes down tables and chairs, vacuums the carpet and cleans out ball returns in the quiet bowling alley, he is able to channel his attention to detail into his work.

Craig feels confident with his new hire. It wasn’t his intention to hire someone new when he signed up as a community partner for providing trial work experiences, but when he saw how perfectly Tristan would fit in at the bowling alley, he couldn’t resist offering a job.

Craig plans to continue to host Goodwill clients through the vocational assessment program. He recognizes the importance of community support to Goodwill’s work and encourages other business owners to sign up to host trial work experiences as well. “It doesn’t take very much time,” said Craig. “And if I can help someone out at no cost to me, why not?”

Craig is one of several partnering businesses who help provide trial work experiences. Some other businesses Goodwill has worked with include Best Western Inn & Suites, Carlenea’s Hair Salon, Courtyard Cedar Bluff, El Gallo Loco, Ingles, NHC Farragut, Northgate Terrace, Knoxville Zoo, Mayo Garden Center, Newk’s Eatery, Roane State Office of Student Development, Rockwood Public Library,  Sav-a-Lot, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, Walgreens, and Young Williams Animal Shelter.

Business partners are vital to our vocational training programs, and we are always seeking more opportunities in our 15-county service area. If you or someone you know might be interested in hosting vocational assessments at your business, please call Goodwill ET&R at 865.588.8567.