Pre-ETS student preps product, adapts, grows skills

Transition school student David Robins is glad to call his work spot home, and it’s a busy one, at the Savers thrift store in Apple Valley.

Sorting clothes into boxes for distribution, a wall of readied product displays tags with Robins’ initials, shirt sizes and other factors, evidence of his work to move product from receiving to the sales floor. Product donors receive discount coupons to purchase from the store, which helps keep used products flowing in and out.

‘Owning it’ after ProAct ‘boot camp’ preparation

“It’s physical, and something to be proud of, seeing all those boxes printed by me already stacked and filling the space and room,” he said.

The opportunity came through ProAct’s Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) program. After an internship at the Minnesota Zoo was canceled at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, his family looked to ProAct.

Robins went through a pre-employment “boot camp” with the nonprofit. Employment specialist Brandon Blevins checks in on him twice a month to verify his progress.

Brandon Blevins

Persistence, attitude, commitment

Early on, Robins struggled with the changes of a new job, but received more training and asked for a different schedule. “I said there was no turning back and that I had to stick with the job, bearing with it,” he said. Progress was made, and Blevins was there to assist.

“It didn’t take much encouragement for Dave to stick with it,” said Blevins. “He always has such a great attitude at work and is very easy to keep encouraged.” Nearly four months later, the young man is still on the job.

Blevins said every time he checks in on Robins at the store, the manager has great things to say.

Preparation, work ethic came early

A predecessor of Blevins helped Robins with his resume and the application. The 19-year-old at worked at Tree Trust over past summers. He’s done landscaping, mailing and document destruction. He also tried jobs at Rosemount Middle School in the kitchen, and he cleaned lockers and a cafeteria. Robins has a solid chore list at home with his parents, who pay him for the work.

“He’s rich,” said his mother, Sandra. The two say the house is spotless.

At Savers, where he works 12 hours per week, Robins has been able to interact with coworkers from different cultural backgrounds. It’s just a few miles from his family’s Farmington home. His parents drive him to work.

Robins is open to job promotions and is working on a benefits analysis to determine how much he can earn while still retaining disability assistance.
It’s been worth the discipline, Robins explained, saying the small struggles have changed him as person.

In the fall, the transition student is considering Inver Hills Community College where he would start with courses for general education credit.