Berkeley Lab’s Talent Outreach team serves as the link between the Lab and its East Bay neighbors – residents, business, civic organizations and community-based organizations.
Berkeley Lab has partnered with East Bay Innovations (EBI) and Project SEARCH for many years, with several former interns transitioning to become full-time Lab employees. Project SEARCH offers clients the opportunity to develop valuable and transferable work skills through an on-the-job vocational training program and job placement program. Meet Lauren McCaffrey, EBI’s Project SEARCH graduate and Talent Outreach intern, who shares her career journey below.
2021 Talent Outreach Intern
Human Resources Division
People have always asked me what it is like to have a learning disability. I’ve been asked: “Is it hard to do certain activities?” and “How hard is it to get a job?” And it has taken a lot of patience, perseverance, and motivation to get a job while having a learning disability.
When I first started looking for employment, it was difficult to overcome the hurdles my learning disabilities caused. I have ADHD, a developmental disorder, as well as anxiety, which makes it hard for me to organize my thoughts and pay attention. Processing information can be difficult, but I knew I was most successful with a routine. But despite sending my resume to every retail store and restaurant in my community, I would not hear back or be rejected. I had no idea what I was doing wrong or right. Then, about seven years ago, my parents heard about transitional living programs for individuals with disabilities such as autism and other learning differences. We jumped at this opportunity and I have since been a part of amazing programs such as East Bay Innovations and College Internship Program Berkeley which have helped me develop new skill sets, gain invaluable experience, and grow my self-confidence.
I am so grateful for this amazing opportunity at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to work as a Talent Outreach Intern and connect with college students about opportunities at the Lab. I’m also proud to say I also recently obtained a certificate in Social Work and Human Services through Berkeley City College. I feel incredibly confident in my newfound abilities and supported by my team, knowing that they will be more than willing to help me as I continue to live and thrive with my disability.
My learning differences may have been a hurdle at times, but I have learned many tools and techniques on how to cope and work through them. I’ve also learned the power of communication and disclosure. No one should feel ashamed to have a job coach, ask for more time for certain tasks, or request new tools; it helps all of us succeed.