When Christopher Wright first joined VIP Works as a spring intern he had no idea it would lead him to discover a new passion and a new career.
“I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen at all. I just knew that I like art,” he said.
Chris, 22, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was in elementary school. He first learned about the VIP Works program through Vocational Rehabilitation, a federal-state funded program that helps people who have physical or mental disabilities get or keep a job.
Everything Chris learned about Adobe InDesign and Photoshop he learned through VIP Works.
Chris said he always dreamed of becoming a computer coder but everything changed when he started the VIP Works program in February. He and five other interns worked with Bright Feats Directory to learn how to make digital advertisements for potential customers. Teachers taught Chris how to use Adobe InDesign and Photoshop to create 1/8 page and 1/2 page ads using a variety of fonts, colors and pictures.
Chris said he loves the creativity behind the work.
“What I really like about it is that it’s not just a cookie cutter thing. It’s not boring work. It’s something only you can make and that’s something I think is really enjoyable about it.”
In addition to the print and digital production skills, Chris said he also learned invaluable problem solving and communication skills to prepare him to get a job and work with others. Every Monday for three months, he learned professional development skills, including how to be professional in the work place, how to write a resume and how to understand other people’s perspectives and emotions.
Chris said one of the most valuable lessons he learned was how to deal with problems in the workplace. “We don’t really know we’re ignoring somebody’s feelings sometimes,” he said about people who have ASD. But Chris said through VIP Works he now knows what social cues to look out for in other people to signal that they might be upset or frustrated.
“It tells us how we could be excluding somebody without even knowing it and it tells us how we can always make sure everyone’s included at work. Everyone works better when they feel like they belong.”
Chris said he will use the skills he learned at VIP Works for the rest of his life. He will also be able to continue building on all his newly developed skills when he begins his new job with Bright Feats Directory this summer. Chris was the only intern selected from his class to be hired as a junior graphic designer.
But Chris said he is just getting started. He plans on going to college to continue studying graphic design. “My way of thinking is, in life, once you find something that you’re really interested in, grab onto it and go all in.”
Chris spent three months working alongside five other VIP Works Interns where they learned print and digital production skills and invaluable professional development skills.