Kayla Sutton started her journey with PHASE-Industries in Mora and, initially, expressed a high degree of frustration through her interactions and behavior.  At the time, she did not communicate verbally or make eye contact with others.  She also indicated a strong reluctance to engage in the work available.  Later, she moved to supports through the Cambridge location, where there she made gains in communicating verbally.  Kayla expressed that she wanted a job, and met with her support team regularly to brainstorm some initial ideas for work.  Ultimately, though, these were not quite the right fit for Kayla’s interests and strengths. Partnering with Kayla to help her successfully find the right employment path was a lengthy process. There were several barriers between Kayla and successful competitive employment, and this was when tweaking and then pairing the right supports specific to Kayla’s interests and strengths, along with her commitment to build the skills employers want, helped pave the way to success.

In the meantime, Kayla continued to work on development and self-advocacy with the support of PHASE-Industries’ Day Support Services. She did find a job and spent some time there, but it still wasn’t quite the right fit. Kayla continued working on her communication skills and daily routine, and then she landed a job at Kwik Trip with amazing supports, co-workers, and management. Kayla was excited to transition to competitive integrated employment in the broader community, getting a paycheck and making more money, and being recognized and compensated for the work she does. She expressed that she does not have fears or concerns about working in the community, but if she ever does, she has support through Janet (PHASE-Industries Employment Support), who is easy to contact with concerns or questions.

One of her supports said she’s known for being the ‘safety patrol’ at work and making sure anything that is unsafe gets fixed immediately. Kayla said that “talking to co-workers” is her favorite part of the day, and she really enjoys helping customers. Kayla is making more money in the workforce than she did in the day program, and she said she is saving up to get her driver’s license and a car. Kayla’s advice for anyone interested in transitioning from the day program to the independent workforce is “Work on your goals first and then start looking for a job!”