Project search, a statewide nine-month internship program focusses on training adults with intellectual disabilities and improving job skills to help them secure employment.
That all changed due to covid-19, causing interns and their trainers to continue the program online.
“Her third rotation they were only in there, all the interns were only in there for two weeks until we had to stop, and we were asked to leave the hospital out of precaution before COVID hit,” says Project Search skills trainer Jessica Belvins. “We started Zooming the next week from home. We’ve had the interns do projects, lessons and we really had to step out of the box to keep them going and engaged.”
Interns normally focus on three different rotations all at St. Bernards hospital during the nine-month program.
Belvins says even during the pandemic, the interns learned to “go with the flow”, with intern Erica Jo Room finding employment while they were finishing the program online.
she says they focused on online interview prep, budgeting, a few activities, and introduced a new curriculum called “hello from”, where interns zoomed with people from multiple different countries, to hear about how covid-19 has affected them.
“The gentleman from South Korea, he told us about COVID-19 in South Korea, and they have to wear their masks and stuff like that,” says intern Erica Jo Room.
Belvins says they learned how similar and different their experiences and cultures.
She says they plan on incorporating the online curriculum into next fall’s class of interns, even if the program is in person.
“I think Hello From is going to be a skills pretty awesome thing we take into our curriculum for our interns to experience other than the United States,” says Belvins. “I think that’s still going to be pretty interesting to incorporate that.”
Belvins says even with the transition online, they were still able to continue project searches mission, and help interns achieve their goals, as seven out of the ten interns have employment.