Vista student finds fit, acceptance at MSC

  • MSC Industrial Supply Co. is a busy workplace.

    A leading North American distributor of metalworking and maintenance, repair and operations products and services, MSC operates its Customer Fulfillment Center in Jonestown three shifts a day.

    Multiple conveyor belts carry plastic bins filled with metal screws, washers, fittings, valves welding masks, work gloves – almost every kind of industrial or manufacturing part one can imagine. Workers move quickly to fill orders for these parts and keep the process going as efficiently as possible. When they have to stop to redistribute the bins, precious time is lost.
    That’s where JS, a Vista School student, enters the picture.

    Since November, JS has been filling a vital need for someone whose sole function is to redistribute the bins and ensure workflow continues smoothly. For someone as neat and precise as JS, the job is ideal. Plus, he gets to see the entire process unfold.

    “JS works at the job independently,” says Brad Herlein, career developer at The Vista School. “When he understands his role, this is something he does. He jumps in without a lot of outside coaching. MSC lets him be independent in his work. That makes it a good fit for him.”

    MSC is committed to promoting a respectful workplace, constructive collaboration, innovative creativity, and genuine leadership through diversity and inclusion. Diversity is definitely a part of the culture, says Katy Hanley, operations manager – 2nd shift, but a company has to “live it” to give the word credibility.

    With autism touching 1 in 68 lives, many families have been affected. Hanley hears MSC associates say “my cousin, my nephew, my son.” Hanley’s own 16-year-old son has high-functioning autism, and since JS joined the team, two workers have selfidentified as having autism. Supporting JS has brought the team together, she says. They feel good doing their part to help him.

    “If you feel good about what you’re doing, you’re going to work twice as fast. Our productivity isn’t the most important gain for us, though he [JS] is helping us with productivity.”

    Vista initially contacted MSC about a year and a half ago. During the course of conversations, and after meeting JS last August, the MSC team became interested in customizing the job to tasks and hours that would meet the needs of a Vista student. JS works at MSC twice a week for a total of nine hours. In addition, he works two other jobs – 10 hours a week in the games department at Hersheypark and two hours at Jay Vending. His role at Jay Vending is to prep the freshly squeezed lemonade that is sold at Hershey Bears games in the Giant Center.

    JS is a good example of how Vista transitions a student to adult life. He’s only at Vista on Friday mornings. The rest of his week is filled with good, meaningful work that he enjoys. Though he is well on his way to a post-Vista life, JS faces a challenge when he graduates this June. He lives in Berks County, and finding transportation to his current jobs will be difficult. If he has to start over, though, he has all of this work experience on his resume.

    When MSC hired JS, their HR business partner mentioned the company would be interested in finding another person for the same role. MS, another Vista student, visited twice over the last month and a half, and his work trials went well. Now he’s been offered the position.

    Herlein says employment success depends on connecting with people who are interested in workplace diversity. “Having a champion on the business side is the real key. They were able to identify a customized position that fit into their workflow well, made sense, and offered a clear benefit to them. It was not too far out of the box as far as how they operate.”

    “This is the best-case scenario,” Herlein says, “an employer who’s really excited and supportive of the employee. They’ve taken ownership of JS’s employment and they’re invested in seeing him succeed.

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