Ready to Conquer the Workforce: Jarrett Schmidt Sets Out on Job Hunt Journey - Penn-Mar

Ready to Conquer the Workforce: Jarrett Schmidt Sets Out on Job Hunt Journey

Posted on March 28, 2024

A man smiling at the camera. Today, Jarrett Schmidt turns 32. His birthday wish? To find a job, and soon. He’s ready and eager to begin the journey with the support of Penn-Mar’s Customized Employment team, who have been working with the Harford County native for the past six months to help prepare him find his dream job.

When Jarrett, who has an intellectual disability, left his family home to move into a Penn-Mar residence a year ago, he came with a very heavy heart, but also with the determination to grow and foster his independence.

In 2020, Jarrett suffered the loss of his father Michael. His grief doubled when his younger brother Anthony died two years later. As Penn-Mar’s Maryland Employment Supports Manager Jennifer Brower said, Jarret’s brother’s passing was a pivotal point of change towards greater independence for the young man.

“It was very traumatic for Jarrett, but he gained tremendous insight,” said Jennifer. “He really wants to do more with his life. He wants to live a full, happy life.”

Since moving to Penn-Mar and participating in its Community Development Services (CDS) program that provides real-world experiences, learning opportunities, and engagement with one’s community, Jarrett, Jennifer noted, has grown, and begun advocating for himself.

“I’m so proud of Jarrett for really being a voice for himself, and making his own choices. It’s a lot of change to take in a year,” she said.

Jarrett took the first six months of being at Penn-Mar to acclimate himself to all the changes. With his advice, Jennifer and the employment team waited to begin the job seeking process, which begins with Exploration and Discovery (E&D).

“It can be very overwhelming when someone is dealing with a lot of changes at once, so we wanted to make sure and ensure that the process would move naturally for him,” said Jennifer, who describes Jarrett as a highly personable, immensely kind, and thoughtful person. “He wanted to wait and feel himself out, and he let us know when he was ready to start job hunting.”

Exploration and Discovery is a four-to-six-week person-centered process that involves working closely with a job seeker to identify his or her skills, desires, and natural talents to be matched with a job in the community and an employer’s needs.

In the years after graduating from Fallston High School in Harford County in 2010 and coming to Penn-Mar, Jarrett was able to get a few odd jobs here and there. The longest, he said, was at Walmart. None of the jobs, however, were customized. When COVID came along his prospects of finding work practically vanished.

A man watering plants using a watering can.What came out of the E&D process was Jarrett’s desire and aptitude for working with his hands and being physically active. Not on his radar, but what was discovered through the process was that he loves tractor supplies, and anything to do with landscaping, gardening, farming, and the outdoors in general.

“I like staying busy, and doing manual work,” said Jarrett, who enjoys fishing and crabbing and other outdoor pursuits. “I really like landscaping.”

Part of E&D is connecting an individual with work experience, and the Customized Employment team were able to connect Jarrett with a working interview with The Mill of Black Horse, located of all places near Jarrettsville, and one of six store locations in Maryland that carries a variety of products for lawn, garden, pet, equine, and livestock.

“We have a lot of wonderful partnerships with different businesses in the community, where individuals can try different activities, and gain valuable job skills, things they may not have ever thought of doing before,” said Jennifer.

In addition to volunteering with seniors, spending time with his peers out in the community through Penn-Mar’s CDS program, and visiting with his beloved grandmother Kay, or hanging out with friends on the weekends, Jarrett wants to dive into the workforce.

“I’m ready. I’m more than ready,” said Jarrett, who is getting in shape, and proud of the 45 pounds that he’s lost over the past year. “I’m a hard worker and working will help me build those muscles.”

“We don’t want anybody to miss the opportunity of having Jarrett working for them,” said Jennifer. “He’s dedicated and dependable, and a real people person. They will not regret it.”

“No, they won’t,” Jarrett quickly fired back.

Thinking of hiring someone with an IDD?  Find information on how to make this happen here.

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