Students prepare for the working world at campus job fair

Watertown Savings Bank, Cradles to Crayons and Community Servings explore job openings with Perkins School for the Blind students

A student reads a job description in braille while an employer looks on.

Hugh, a Lower School student, reads a job description in braille at the Perkins Job Fair.

January 30, 2018

The conversation unfolded like any conversation between a job seeker and employer.

Antonia O’Hara, assistant vice president of Watertown Savings Bank, explained what she was looking for in an applicant: someone capable of ripping open rolls of wrapped coins to funnel through the bank’s coin machine.

Logan, a 14-year-old Perkins School for the Blind student, responded by touting his qualifications: “I can rip open some things that other people can’t,” he said. “I can definitely rip open a roll of quarters.”

At the Perkins Job Fair on Friday, similar conversations were taking place between Logan’s peers from the Lower School and Secondary Program and more than two dozen on-campus employers and community partners. Held annually, the fair affords students the opportunity to learn about the working world while helping them sharpen their communication and interview skills.

“You want students to be thinking about themselves and how they relate to the world of work as early as they can,” said Karen McCormack, job developer at Perkins. “Instead of sitting in a classroom and talking about it, they can have a real experience.”

Dozens of students attended the Job Fair, navigating from table to table introducing themselves to employers. They practiced shaking hands and listening patiently to job descriptions, some of which were available in braille, before asking informed questions about the hiring process.

Though the fair served as an educational opportunity for students, a number of community partners in attendance said they came in hopes of filling open roles.

Community Servings, a nonprofit food and nutrition program in nearby Jamaica Plain, was one such partner. Taylor Stevens, volunteer coordinator with the organization, said she was looking to eventually bring on more Perkins students to help with food prep when her current group of students moves on.

“They were helping us to pick herbs...which is extremely time-consuming for our kitchen staff,” she said. “Having the students come in and do that each week took a huge load off of the kitchen and allowed them to make more meals.”

That sentiment was echoed by Jordan Hara, volunteer engagement coordinator with Cradles to Crayons, a nonprofit that provides art and school supplies to low income families. She said Perkins students have become an integral part of the organization with their work putting together art and school supply packs.

“They’re totally instrumental to the children that we’re serving,” she said.  

Back at the Watertown Savings Bank table, Logan and O’Hara talked company culture and policy. Interested in the position, Logan shared his contact information with O’Hara and, before walking away, added he’ll be “ready to go” whenever the bank comes calling.

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