A Long Time Coming - Penn-Mar

A Long Time Coming

Posted on July 7, 2023

By Courtenay Dudek, Job Developer, DSP III | Penn-Mar Human Services

EJ on the job at Penguin Random House sporting his new ID badge

Eric Heine, who prefers to go by EJ, recently landed his first paid job.

“Since high school, I’ve wanted a job. I only volunteered before. I was having trouble getting a job in retail or working with animals, and my friend said I should work at Penguin Random House,” EJ shared.

EJ’s volunteerism helped him to identify what kind of job he would enjoy. Reflecting on his past volunteer experiences, he shared, “I like to keep things organized and neat.” So when he volunteered at Old Navy, cleaning up after customers frustrated him. But he loved playing with the cats when he volunteered at PetSmart a couple years ago. He also volunteered at his high school in the cafeteria, but wasn’t a big fan of the trash duty (who can blame him?).

EJ was hoping his volunteer experiences would lead to similar paid jobs, but after applying to several places, he was hitting a dead end. A persistent person, he had applied to about twenty places within an eight-month period, with the support of Nicole Swartz, Youth Transition Coordinator Employment Specialist.

When Persistence Pays Off

Fortunately, EJ kept applying and took his friend’s suggestion about Penguin Random House. His application resulted in an interview, and he was hired on the spot as a picker/packer. He was quickly on-boarded and went through orientation with Nicole’s support. Next, Penguin Random House paired EJ up with a seasoned employee for on-the-job training to learn the position.

EJ is a tech-savvy person and Nicole was not at all surprised by EJ’s independence and success at his new job.

“I like using the scanner,” he shared, referencing how his job involves scanning book pods, finding out what size box he needs, packing the box with books, and then scanning the box to send it off on a conveyor belt. He also inducts, which involves getting the books from the bin and scanning them, and then sending them to different pods in the warehouse to be packed later. Another duty is ensuring there are plenty of boxes available for him and other coworkers, gathering them from downstairs and stacking them nearby for use.

Best of all, EJ has potential to grow in his position — moving to sealing boxes, finding missing books in orders, or even becoming an OP2 or OP3 which involves driving a forklift, getting crates of boxes from high shelves, and moving pallets of shipments. But for now, EJ is content with his OP1 job.

When I asked him what he liked best about his new job, EJ shared that he enjoys the people he works with and “made one guy laugh.” A personable guy, it’s no surprise that EJ has already connected with his colleagues.

Beyond the Books

When he’s not working, EJ enjoys riding 4-wheelers and plans on saving his hard-earned money to buy a Yamaha Raptor. He loves hanging out with his friends and talking to them on the phone. He likes airsoft and collecting sports cards and likes to get his friends into them as well.

EJ works two to three days a week and uses an app to choose his weekly schedule. He takes public transportation to and from work with support to set up rides. He hopes to work up to four days a week in the coming months so that he can save enough money for his dream 4-wheeler.

And with his persistent attitude, I have no doubt that EJ will make his 4-wheeler dreams come true! In the meantime, I’m excited to see him thrive at Penguin Random House, where he’s connecting with his colleagues, and making a good wage at a company that respects him as a person, where he is contributing to their mission and goals.

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