On-the-Job Training Helps Sara Rossman Get Skills Needed for Full Time Job

Sara Rossman photo

Tallahassee, FL – Most of the time, a mother knows when there is something wrong with her child, even if she can’t pinpoint exactly what it could be. Sara Rossman’s mom had always felt that there was something in addition to the previously diagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder that was affecting her daughter’s social skills. It wasn’t until she started working with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Counselor Lynn Picolo that Sara was also diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum. VR is a state agency that helps people with disabilities find or keep a job.

Lynn, who has experience counseling people who have autism, immediately placed Sara in social skills classes. She also set her up in VR’s On-the-Job Training (OJT) program, which gives people with disabilities the chance to try out a profession and learn job skills alongside other employees. Sara learned office skills, including filing, scanning, archiving, and photocopying, while working for the Independent Living program at VR headquarters.

After completing her OJT, Sara was hired full time as a staff assistant for the contracted services section at VR. She now does the same office duties that she learned during her OJT, as well as pre-auditing invoices and occasionally answering the phones. “Sara has an exceptional eye for detail, so we have her edit all of our documents,” says Cathy McEachron, Sara’s supervisor.

Sara has blossomed in her job at VR with support from her co-workers. She has become more open to new assignments and is more willing to step out of her comfort zone. “We’re thrilled to have her here,” Cathy says. “And it’s been great to see her grow and become more confident and happy with her job.”

To other employers who may be concerned about hiring someone who has a disability, Cathy says, “Frankly, I don’t even see her disability. It doesn’t factor in at all. She’s qualified for the job, and she does a great job.”

Lynn is very proud of Sara and says that she’s come a long way in the short time she was a VR customer. “Once we had her diagnosed, we were able to put her in the programs where she would benefit the most,” says Lynn. “I have so many young adults on my caseload who have autism who just need a chance to prove themselves on the job, and I’m really glad VR was able to give her that chance.”

“Lynn was great. She was fun and I’m glad I got to work with her,” Sara says. “I think if I didn’t have VR, I’d be jobless and at home sleeping all day. I’d like to let other people with disabilities know that there are places that can help, you should apply for VR.”

Florida’s Vocational Rehabilitation program is committed to helping people with disabilities become part of America’s workforce. Our employer-focused website, FLJobConnections.com, allows businesses to search at no charge for employees who are ready to go to work, as well as to post available jobs. VR has 80 offices across Florida, and last year helped 6,523 Floridians with significant disabilities find or keep a job. For more information about VR and its services, call (800) 451-4327 or visit Rehabworks.org.