Recently, Project THRIVE held their Community Learning Opportunity (CLO) event. CLO is a career fair held for the THRIVE students, in which the students educate businesses and employers on what Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is and different ways to support employees with ASD in the workplace. The career fair allows students to network with potential employers, building relationships that can help them get jobs with the company in the future.

The students prepared for the Community Learning Opportunity event for quite some time. They built resumes that highlighted their education, extracurricular activities, and work experience to present to the employers. THRIVE staff briefed the students beforehand on how the event would work, what companies would be there, and how to approach the employers they were interested in getting a job with. The days before the event were spent practicing individual introductory speeches with the Program Director and Assistant Dean of Students. Introductions are crucial during a job search, so preparing these speeches ensured that the students would be able to connect with the employers, especially those that offered jobs interesting to them.

When the day finally arrived, excitement and anticipation coursed through the students, directors, and employers. The event was held in a large room with tables for the company representatives to set up. The students arrived later and they had clearly dressed to impress, some even sporting full suits! The students circled the room, stopping at each table to introduce themselves find out each representative’s role at their company. If the student was particularly interested in a job, they could hand the employer their resume.

The students also had the opportunity of speaking with the employers about what it means to have Autism Spectrum Disorder, how it affects their life, and how to accommodate people with ASD in the workplace. They spoke of previous accommodations made by co-workers that had helped them, and different ways a workplace could support employees with ASD. It was a learning experience for the employers to be presented with first-hand accounts of how to assist their employees with ASD while having a more inclusive and diverse work environment.

CLO was a success for the employers and the Project THRIVE team, and we loved hearing about the experience. Congratulations on another successful CLO!