Ryan Cenk is a young adult with a disability living in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Just like all other young people, Ryan dreams of the career he will have as an adult. For Ryan that dream is to be a tour guide and project manager at the Roberto Clemente Museum. Thanks to Giant Eagle, 21 and Able and the United Way of Allegheny County Ryan is gaining the job skills to make his employment dream a reality.
Since high school Ryan has participated in programs at Blind and Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh that helped prepare him for employment. Ryan asked his job counselor for help to find work, “I told her ‘I want a job, I am willing to do anything'”. That’s when Barbra Graham, vocational rehabilitation counselor and Giant Eagle’s career transition liaison, made a connection that gave Ryan the opportunity to work.
Ryan was hired at the Pine Creek Giant Eagle as a part of an innovative pilot project that hires young adults with disabilities for jobs and provides coaching to help them transition from school to the workforce. As a cashier in the health and beauty section he operates the cash register, assists customers with questions and helps them find the products. Ryan is also a docent in training at the Roberto Clemente Museum, where he hopes to one day have full-time employment. “I love going in and seeing all my co-workers, interacting with customers and brightening their days,” he said.
Ryan has the following advice for other teens with disabilities who are looking for work: “My advice is to start looking early and work hard. If you don’t get the first job, don’t get discouraged. Keep trying – be okay with it. Follow your dreams.” #IWantToWork