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Carolyn Gorman, coordinator of post secondary and career education for the Aspeger Syndrome Adult Transition (ASAT) program, offered a class this fall that turned out to be one of the most popular career classes for students.

Entitled “Tales from the Trenches,” this Wednesday afternoon class brought guest speakers into the classroom to talk about their first jobs and the paths they took to their eventual vocations. Some students signed up thinking the class might be about video games or World War II history but they weren’t disappointed when they discovered what it was really all about. Even students who did not enroll in the class dropped by as more guest speakers came in to talk about their first jobs and how they settled on their eventual career paths.

 “It was one of the best career classes I’ve been a part of just because the students were actively involved and interested,” said Carolyn. “They took it seriously and I felt they really did get a real-world understanding of things like balancing the need for a paycheck against loftier career goals. They really got the difference between having a job and creating a long term career plan.”

 Thanks to our guest speakers:

  • A librarian from Howard Whittemore Memorial Library in Naugatuck, Matthew Yanarella
  • Maria Aretakis, ASAT staff who talked about previous employment in the Graphic Design field and working with animals.
  • Shannon Jacobs, Supervisor ASAT SLP who talked about previous childcare and retail jobs.
  • Jason Hovey, ASAT Program Staff who talked about previous food service and retail experiences.
  • Josh Liebeskind, ASAT community member who works on IT staff at Chapel Haven and in a violin repair shop.
  • A Yale undergraduate intern in the ASAT program, who talked about her job working in the dining hall at Yale as well as jobs in childcare and retail.

“Our guests told us the behind-the-scenes information that you might not hear about at a career fair or in an interview,” Carolyn said. “They let us know the good, the great, the bad and the ugly to help our students think about their career interests.”

ASAT students were at the ready with a list of questions, such as: How did you get your first job? How did you deal with a tough boss or difficult co-worker? Along the way, the guest speakers used terms the students were not familiar with, such as PTO (paid time off), salaried job, hourly rate, etc. The class was able to capitalize on these learning moments by getting personal explanations of work terminology, further expanding their knowledge of the world of work.

“I felt like I learned some very relevant information about the career field I am interested in” stated ASAT Student, Daniel Gray. “I was able to ask the questions that were important to me.”