Liz Blaydon – Career Developer
Liz Blaydon always knew she wanted to work with individuals with disabilities. When she was in middle school, she belonged to a youth group and frequently volunteered with children at Philhaven Hospital. She went on to attend Mansfield University to study organizational communications.
After college, Liz became a Therapeutic Staff Support (TSS) at Philhaven. After serving as a TSS for a year, she heard about Vista, decided to apply, and was hired as a Behavior Technician. Liz served in this role for a year and then became the Lead Behavior Technician in her classroom. “I loved working with that age group and being within the classroom. We were always laughing all day, creating unique bonds with the students, and although the direct support was intense, it was so rewarding!”
Liz had been working as the Lead Behavior Technician for a year when her husband received a job opportunity that prompted a move to Maryland. After moving to Maryland, Liz realized she still wanted to work with the autism population and began working at ServiceSource as an Employment Consultant. Six months later, when her husband received a job offer in the Lancaster area, the couple moved back to Pennsylvania. Liz informed a friend at Vista that she was moving back to the Hershey area. An opportunity to interview for the Career Developer position followed soon thereafter.
What made you want to come back to Vista?
“There is just no place like Vista – from the staff, to the kids, to the families we work with. A different level of care and understanding happens at Vista that does not happen everywhere else. There is a more positive approach to things and a willingness from staff to jump in whenever and wherever.”
“I have fallen in love with the transition process, and I wanted to come back in this capacity. Being back, I am in a new role, but it feels as though I left to sharpen skills. I now have the ability to sell Vista to businesses and have an opportunity to share experiences and successes with companies. It just feels like everything has come full circle!”
What is a day in the life of a Career Developer like?
Liz gets to know the students and advocates for them 24/7. Every day is different, but typically consists of researching businesses, connecting, and networking with people, digging into social resources, observing students, creating resumes for students, collecting data from work trials, observations, attending work trials, and visiting local businesses.
“We are consistently asking businesses to think outside of their typical job postings and looking for those unmet needs that every business has. I look at a possible task and match that task with a student on my caseload.”
What do you look forward to when you come to work each day?
“The new opportunities with businesses that are constantly popping up. New management may come into a business and have new ideas and new programming that could potentially work with one of our students. Just when you think, ‘oh wow, it’s been a quiet week,’ you end the week with four new businesses contacting you to set up a trial or a job for the students. I am able to see the development of new skills and see someone in a new environment, and that is so rewarding. We are consistently breaking the barriers of individuals with autism within the workforce, and I am able to witness it every day!”