Meet Rose Hilderbrand as she discusses her new job in manufacturing and hear reflections from Vanessa Rastberger of the Manufacturing Skills Institute and the National Clearinghouse Update with Cherie Takemoto
Speaker 1: VR Workforce Studio.
Rick Sizemore: VR Workforce Studio. Inspiration, education, and affirmation at work. Welcome to another episode as we open up the VR Workforce Studio to champion the courageous stories of vocational rehabilitation from individuals with disabilities.
Speaker 1: Listen to our amazing stories about the disability employment journey.
Speaker 2: Hear us describe our pathway through the challenge.
Speaker 4: And feel the joy and share in our inspiration as we go to work.
Rick Sizemore: We’ll also meet the champions of business and industry who hire individuals with disabilities.
Speaker 5: I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that some of our best employees have disabilities.
Rick Sizemore: And hear from the VR professionals who have dedicated their lives and careers to helping individuals with disabilities go to work.
Rick Sizemore: Now here is the host of the VR Workforce Studio, Rick Sizemore along with the executive director of the Wilson Workforce & Rehabilitation Center Foundation, Anne Hudlow.
Counter: Four, three, two, one.
Anne Hudlow: On today’s episode of the VR Workforce Studio, Rose Hilderbrand takes us back to last year’s C&C Academy and retraces the steps to her new job in manufacturing.
Rick Sizemore: What an amazing journey.
Anne Hudlow: Absolutely, Rick. And we talk with Heidi King about this year’s academy, and check in with our old friend, Vanessa Rastberger, from the Manufacturing Skills Institute.
Rick Sizemore: As well as Cherie Takemoto from the National Clearing House for rehabilitation training materials. It’s gonna be a great show, Anne.
Anne Hudlow: Sure is. Can’t wait to get started.
Rick Sizemore: Welcome, Rose!
Rose H.: Hello.
Rick Sizemore: And welcome, Heidi.
Heidi King: Hey, guys. Thanks for having me.
Anne Hudlow: Rose, in just a short year you’ve gone through a transformation, I’d say for sure. Tell us about your new job!
Rose H.: Well, I’ve currently gotten a position at Masco Cabinetry and I’m very excited, because they’re known internationally all over the world, and they own three brands, which is Merillat, Quality Cabinets and KraftMade. And they’re extremely popular. It’s an amazing place, because the fact that they’re known everywhere, I couldn’t have gotten to that point without the workforce center helping me out with all of my skills that I achieved.
Rick Sizemore: That is just exciting!
Anne Hudlow: That is exciting.
Rick Sizemore: To see that you’re with such a great company.
Rose H.: I’m so excited and happy, because after working so hard, it’s finally coming through and unfolding beautifully.
Anne Hudlow: That’s great. Tell us about a day on the job for you.
Rose H.: I am a finishing sprayer, and that’s when we spray the materials we have to get them the right tone and hue and what we want, so that way it’ll please our customers.
Rick Sizemore: Take us back to the Dream It, Do It Manufacturing Academy, the C&C Academy that you went through last year as part of the MTT program.
Rose H.: Well, it opened my eyes. Sure, you can make things with wood, because I was like, “Man, I like building things with wood.” But when I went there, I was like, “There are other things I could use to make things, too.” There’s metals, plastics, and a whole bunch of different things, and I was just like, it opened my eyes to make me see that it’s not just about wood. You can do many different things.
Rick Sizemore: Had you ever thought about going into manufacturing before you were at that camp?
Rose H.: No. I thought I was gonna be like, I wanted to be, when I came there, I remember saying, “I’m gonna be a carpenter’s assistant some day.” No, I’m not. I’m going to be a finishing sprayer, and I’m going to do my job well, and I’m gonna do it right.
Anne Hudlow: And that has been your attitude since we met you. I remember interviewing you at the C&C Academy, and it was awesome. You just had the most positive attitude, we knew you were gonna do great things.
Rick Sizemore: Absolutely knew it. So, how does it make you feel knowing that academy helped Rose get this great new job?
Heidi King: We are absolutely thrilled. Really, the purpose of the academy was to help the individuals who were involved really get a direction for their lives in either way. We wanted them to have the experience of knowing what working in manufacturing would really look like, so when they actually go and look for a real position, they know what they’re getting into, and they can be excited about it and advocate for themselves a little better.
Anne Hudlow: Heidi, of course I know you remember Rose, and so, can you tell us why you think she’s so successful?
Heidi King: It’s definitely, you were absolutely right what you said before, her attitude is amazing. Rose has an excellent work ethic, I think.
Rick Sizemore: What are some of the things that you all did in the academy last year?
Rose H.: We were first taught how to do schematics and basically draw diagrams of what our project was. It ended up being a bird puzzle. But not shaped like a bird, but it was a very strange shape. Mainly like a big square with a bunch of different things. And we got to actually build it and use the machines ourselves to create them, but we had to get the schematics, we learned each step of how to be safe while doing it, and many things like that. And let me tell you, it brought a big smile on my face when I saw the project was finished.
Rose H.: I was like, “Yay!”
Rick Sizemore: It sounds like it made you excited about manufacturing to actually build something.
Rose H.: Absolutely
Rick Sizemore: Heidi? What other things did you do in last year’s academy?
Heidi King: Well, the whole, the process, like she said, they created a puzzle. So, each piece of the puzzle, they worked on and made themselves. And some of those pieces were made on the traditional, manual machines, and some of them were made on the C&C machine. So, really the idea was to give them a holistic perspective, both of what computer-numerical control looked like, but also what regular, advanced manufacturing looks like, so that they would have an idea of whatever direction they would like to go in. And then, when they put the puzzle together, they could look and see a different experience with each piece that they put together, making up their whole experience. So it was a fun little metaphor, I think.
Rick Sizemore: What’s the labor market like for someone who has skills in C&C?
Heidi King: I think it’s very lucrative right now. There are a ton of companies around here, including Hershey –
Rick Sizemore: Provides./
Heidi King: Provides, yes. You are correct.
Rick Sizemore: I happen to know that because my son works at Provides.
Heidi King: Oh, awesome! That’s very cool.
Rick Sizemore: And he’s a C&C operator, by the way.
Heidi King: Cool.
Rick Sizemore: He loves it.
Heidi King: That’s an awesome job. For the Careers Pathways Grant, advanced manufacturing for this area was actually identified as one of the most lucrative areas for individuals to find jobs just based on the needs that the companies have for skilled labor.
Anne Hudlow: Yeah, Rick, you know, I can’t say enough about what the Shenandoah Workforce Development Board is doing.
Rick Sizemore: It’s amazing.
Anne Hudlow: I mean, in the V2V Grant, I tell yeah. It’s incredible.
Rick Sizemore: There’s certainly a partner in podcasting.
Anne Hudlow: Oh, absolutely. You got that right. So, Rose. Can you tell us a little bit more about your disability?
Rose H.: When I was little, I ended up finding out that I have extreme ADHD, a bit of PDD, but they ended making it later on with the medical stuff, saying that PDD is now part of the autistic spectrum. So I have a bit of autism, slightly. But that causes me to get fidgety and have a hard time focusing and get stressed out very easily. The good thing is, is that I have so many great supporters to help me and help me focus on my goal, especially my friends in this very room, that are speaking with me right now. They’ve been with me the whole way, and thanks to them and many other people, I’ve been able to stay focused and stay calm and be cool, calm and collected, so that way I can achieve my goals that I need to do.
Rick Sizemore: Well, you recognize the attributes of your disability. But I will tell you, everyone who has worked with you through the academy, your MTT instructor, the business development managers that helped open up the relationship with the folks who hired you. They all know you can do it. Because you were able to develop the skills you needed to be on this job. What kind of supports did you get through voc rehab, or here in MTT that helped you overcome your disability so you can go to work?
Rose H.: They gave me different skills and techniques that I could use that would help me with interviews and many things like that, that will make it seem like, even if I’m really nervous, that I’m fine. I might be nervous, but everyone’s nervous on an interview, of course.
Rick Sizemore: Fake it ’til you make it.
Rose H.: Absolutely. You just gotta stay calm and collected, and that’s what many people have taught me here. Is that, things might get a little hectic, but you just gotta calm down and take it slowly, step by step. And that’s really helped me. At nights, I had a hard time sleeping, and they ended up telling me, “Well, what would you feel about if we gave you a weighted blanket?” Ever since then, I still have that weighted blanket, and it still keeps me nice and calm and helps me sleep at night, so that way I can have a productive, better day the next day.
Rick Sizemore: And sleep is essential to good employment.
Rose H.: Absolutely. Because if you’re sleeping past the time your alarm goes off on your first day, that would be pretty bad. They would be look at you like, “You forgot your shoes.” Oh no!
Anne Hudlow: I want to reflect back on the VMA forum, where we were able to hear you give a testimonial. It meant so much to us, and I know people in that room, but how did it feel for you?
Rose H.: It felt like, when I was giving my testimony, I’m like, “This is it.” This is gonna be advice and wisdom for other generations and other people to hear, that they can use and to think about to themselves and that they can use to help them with their futures as well.
Rick Sizemore: We’re talking about Rose in front of 200 plant managers at the Virginia Manufacturer’s Association. This was the who’s who in manufacturing, and I’ll tell you, you blew them away.
Rose H.: I wouldn’t be surprised.
Rick Sizemore: I know Dr. Gray, one of the leaders at the Virginia Manufacturer’s Association, he was absolutely thrilled, and he gave you some nice compliments, based on what you had to say about your experience, and going into manufacturing.
Rose H.: Absolutely. I still remember him standing up and pointing at me and saying, “See this girl? We need more females like her in our manufacturing facilities and businesses all over.” And that made me feel really proud that he actually pointed me out, because I had been used to being put down, but instead being lifted up? That felt really good for me.
Anne Hudlow: And you deserve that. Dr. Gray also commented on you taking the steps to work in an industry that is typically male-dominated. And actually, said at that time, for more females to consider working in manufacturing, like you. So how did that make you feel?
Rose H.: I felt like, “Finally! Someone else is getting it.” Because I remember doing reports when I was younger about how women couldn’t do certain things. But then you look at the future now, and how things are going, it’s showing you that we can do it, too. It’s telling people not to be afraid of what they want to do, of what they dream. Just do it. If you have a dream, and if you know there’s a way you can achieve it. As long as there’s no violence. No violence will be tolerated.
Rose H.: As long as you know you can achieve it, and it’s not out of your boundaries. Even if it is out of your boundaries, just a little bit. You shouldn’t give up your hopes and dreams and being able to actually do something for yourself. You should try to strive for it if it makes you happy.
Rick Sizemore: Absolutely.
Anne Hudlow: So, are you saying, “Dream it, do it”?
Rose H.: Absolutely.
Rick Sizemore: Dream it, do it.
Anne Hudlow: She’s living it.
Rick Sizemore: One of the great things about vocational rehabilitation is, we try to help people overcome the obstacles to employment. You did not have a driver’s license going into this experience, and you obtained your driver’s license while you were here at Wilson Workforce. What was it like learning to drive?
Rose H.: At first, I was like, “Oh my goodness, I’m driving!” But now I’m just like, “Pfft. Why was I so freaked out? I got this. It’s in the bag.” Wait until I get my car, I’ll be driving all over the place.
Rick Sizemore: Yes, you will. And earning enough money to put gas in the tank, that’s the other key. And I think one of the beauties of “Dream It. Do It.” is we focus on, “What kind of job do you need to buy a Ford Focus and be able to also get your apartment, cellphone, anything that you want?” Now, if you were talking to a potential participant about the C&C Academy, what would you tell them about Rose and her experience?
Heidi King: I would say that maybe when Rose first came into the Academy, she didn’t really have 100% an idea of what she wanted to do, and maybe was a little skeptical of the idea of some of the things that we were doing, to begin with. But she stuck with it and she gave it a chance, and it really ended up benefiting her. Even if someone has no idea what advanced manufacturing is, or what a job looks like, or even has misconceptions about working in a dirty, dark, over-stimulating place, we really want them to give this Academy a chance to really dispel some of those misconceptions, and establish with them that they can make a living wage, and have a really good job that they can feel happy about, and feel like is very rewarding and satisfying for them. Hopefully it will be a good experience for them.
Rick Sizemore: Rose, what would you say to someone who was thinking of trying a C&C Camp, or a Dream It, Do It academy. What’s your advice to them?
Rose H.: I would say, “Absolutely go for it.” It is a great experience, you will not regret it, and you will learn a whole bunch of things you wouldn’t even realize. Because I still remember how our instructor said, “Engineers make the blueprints, but we actually create the product.” They just make the outline of it. Like, “Oh, it should look like this.” But we’re actually the ones who get hands-on and make it ourselves.
Anne Hudlow: And that’s rewarding, right?
Rose H.: Absolutely. Knowing that someone else some day could use it and have it benefit them, it brings a smile to my face. I can’t help it.
Anne Hudlow: Well, I’m gonna say it. That’s awesome!
Rick Sizemore: It is awesome!
Rose H.: I always had a hard time with things when I was younger. I dealt with a lot of things that a kid should not have had to deal with. And it’s heart-breaking when you’re very little to have the only person that you had really close to you pass away, it was hard for me. Especially being the fact that that person was my mother. But one thing she had taught me, and also the Wilson Workforce, is that even when times get hard, life is going to throw you curve balls. You just gotta know whether you’re gonna hit it and make it an outfielder, or if you’re gonna bunt it and run. You just gotta be careful for that. And no matter how life gets for you, just remember that somebody cares about you. And they will always support you. Just remember that.
Rick Sizemore: That’s a beautiful thought.
Rose H.: Thank you.
Rick Sizemore: What would you say to other people with disabilities about your experience in voc rehab?
Rose H.: My experience, honestly, when I first got in and I heard the words “voc rehab” I was like, “That’s a strange word.” It sounded weird to me. It made me a little uneased. But actually going through it, I’m like, “Oh, this isn’t scary at all. This is fun, this is exciting, and it’s helping me get closer to something in my life. This is great!” I mean, if I could, I would come back here and do more stuff. Because it’s fabulous here, I love it so much. You make long-lasting friendships, you learn new skills every day, and nothing can beat that. That’s pretty amazing.
Rick Sizemore: So, voc rehab worked for you.
Rose H.: Absolutely.
Rick Sizemore: What else can you say after that?
Anne Hudlow: I don’t know. Yeah. Anything I would have thought to have said, I’ve forgotten because that was phenomenal.
Rose H.: Well, you probably would have said, “That was awesome.”
Anne Hudlow: Yes. That was awesome.
Rick Sizemore: So, one of my favorite interviewers is an old, old man named Dan Rather. And Dan Rather ends every interview with, “So, what question did I not ask you that you wish I would have asked?”
Rose H.: Well. I was hoping you would ask when I’d be able to come back and talk with you guys some more.
Anne Hudlow: The invitation’s open, any time.
Rick Sizemore: Because this was a great story that started with “Dream It. Do It.” you went through manufacturing technology training, you learned to drive, you worked with the division of rehab services here in the Virginia general program, and you’re now working. But the story will continue as you continue working. One of the laws that controls what we do mandates that we look at you at six months after you started working, see if you’re still working. Take another look at a year after you started working to see if you’re still working, and to see what your wages were at six months. We’ve already accomplished some of the things. There are six things we work on, those last three of engaging business, we obviously have done that.
Rose H.: Absolutely.
Rick Sizemore: We documented your skill gains, which we certainly did. And we track your workforce credentials. And we did that. Maybe you could continue to stay with us for the next couple of years with some updates on how that job is going, and I’m willing to bet right now. Right here, right now, I’m gonna bet.
Rose H.: A new car!
Rick Sizemore: Now see, we gotta keep an eye on you.
Rose H.: Yes, yes.
Rick Sizemore: But I’m gonna bet you’re gonna be in a better job, and that you’re gonna get in a promotion within the next year. I guarantee it.
Anne Hudlow: The sky is the limit for this one.
Rick Sizemore: The sky is the limit.
Anne Hudlow: She is going to just blow the roof off.
Rick Sizemore: I will ask you to tell us, those workforce credentials that you received. Can you tell us what they are?
Rose H.: I have a silver CRC, which is a Career Readiness Certificate. I have a forklift certification, and I have my OSHA 10. And I also have my driver’s license.
Rick Sizemore: And did you get some credentials in MTT?
Rose H.: Absolutely. I also got some in product assembly as well.
Rick Sizemore: Okay. So, what credentials did you get in MTT?
Rose H.: Yeah, my MT1 and my manufacturing specialist.
Rick Sizemore: Those are pretty hot commodities. Having an MT1 means you can go to work any time you want to. Do you want to talk about the workforce credentials in the academy?
Heidi King: Yes, somewhat. We actually have Debby Hopkins, who is the director of the Valley To Virginia partnership grant, is gonna come in and talk about the opportunities associated with apprenticeships. A lot of which, funnily enough, happen in advanced manufacturing. Manufacturing technology training in the MTT program actually is a pre-apprenticeship that helps funnel individuals into apprenticeship programs, so hopefully, if we have essentially a funnel, we can have the “Dream It. Do It.” Academy, someone could be interested in the MTT program, and potentially funnel into an apprenticeship. So, those credentials are invaluable when you go to find a job, either via an apprenticeship or otherwise.
Rick Sizemore: And for our manufacturers, the Virginia Manufacturers Association says, for recruiting and selecting and training and onboarding an employee that doesn’t work out, which sometimes happens, it costs them a little over $6,000, the average facility. So if you have an MT1, and you have these camps and academies as experience going in, then you’ve really demonstrated that, first you have the interest. And you have the skill, so manufacturers are eager to talk to folks that have that MT1.
Rick Sizemore: What else do you want to tell us about the academy or your reflections on Rose, Heidi?
Heidi King: Well, we are absolutely ecstatic that Rose has been able to take her experience with our academy last year, and have it help her direct her life. Really, our hope and our goal for this academy is to do exactly the same thing, which is to give the other participants the opportunity to really decide what they want to do with their lives, be it manufacturing or not, and to grow a little bit. Even though it’s only a week, we want to help them get a few more skills that they can use when they go out to employers, or where they go to get more education, or to get those certificates. So over all, we hope it will be good.
Rick Sizemore: Any final thoughts, Rose?
Rose H.: Well, I think I have a few for those who are willing to try to take the class for MTT. If you’re going to take the class, you must take it seriously. I’ve seen many people who have had to walk out, because all they wanted to do was joke, laugh and be silly instead of studying and paying attention to the class.
Rick Sizemore: Yeah, this is not for lightweights.
Rose H.: Oh, no, no. If you’re not willing to be able to commit to this, then just, please. If you want to take the class, you must be committed. Because you will learn things like you did in high school. You will learn chemistry, you will learn geometry. You will learn a whole bunch of stuff. And even if it’s hard for you with math, don’t worry about it. They’ll have somebody help teach you with it. And they’ll make sure you get everything down packed. But please. Take it seriously.
Rick Sizemore: Well, we’ve been talking with Heidi King and Rose Hilderbrand about the C&C, “Dream It. Do It.” Academy last year, and celebrate Rose Hilderbrand’s success, not only in the academy, but as an MTT trainee, and now employee in the manufacturing sector here in Virginia. Thank you both for being here.
Rose H.: Thank you, too. I was so glad to be able to be here and talk with everybody, and being able to help encourage others to just dream it, and do it.
Rick Sizemore: So fortunate to have in the VR Workforce Studio our old friend, Vanessa Rastberger from the Manufacturing Skills Institute, welcome to the podcast, Vanessa!
Vanessa R.: Thank you!
Rick Sizemore: And you’re just back from a national conference on “Dream It. Do It.” What’s up in the big city?
Vanessa R.: Yeah, we just got back. National conference in DC, hosted by the National Association of Manufacturers, and their non-profit organization, which is the Manufacturing Institute. We had about 30 states represented across the country came together to share promising practices, peer networking on what we’re all doing across the country to change the perceptions on manufacturing and really get more people aware, to raise that awareness level on what we’re doing, and why manufacturing is such a great career pathway.
Rick Sizemore: You know, we just talked with Rose Hilderbrand, who was in the “Dream It. Do It.” camp, went through manufacturing training, now working in the cabinetry industry as a woman. What’s your take on females emerging as a force in manufacturing?
Vanessa R.: That’s actually a really big focus for us right now at the BMA, so we know that we need to get folks from all over into manufacturing, a lot of different target audiences, and we are working on our women and girls getting into manufacturing. We’re looking at maybe doing an all-girl camp, so that’s one idea at the “Dream It. Do It.” camp, just girls. And we also have some members that have started doing some programs, like “Take Your Daughter To Work Day”. So, we’re really trying to share what’s worked in the past, and a big thing that the VMA is working on is adopting a program that, through the National Association of Manufacturers, and it is their Science, Technology, Engineering and Production, so it’s called STEP Ahead award, and these are specifically for women in manufacturing, and this initiative is really trying to inspire more young women to pursue careers in industry, and recognize the female leaders that we have so far.
Rick Sizemore: Vanessa Rastberger, with the Manufacturing Skills Institute, always a pleasure to have you on the podcast.
Vanessa R.: Thank you so much for including me.
Rick Sizemore: We’re really excited to welcome back to the podcast, Cherie Takemoto from the National Clearing House for rehabilitation training materials. Welcome back, Cherie!
Cherie Takemoto: Thank you! And thank you for taking over for me last week, you and Anne did a fabulous job, and I’m just surprised that you’re inviting me back again.
Rick Sizemore: We missed you! But we’re delighted that you are back. Looks like you have some exciting resources for us from the National Clearing House. What about Labor Market Information?
Cherie Takemoto: Yes! I chose Labor Market Information because it highlights something that you’re doing at Wilson, which is, in the past, before this Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act, or the changes in voc rehab, the VR counselors only worked with the client and tried to find jobs for the client. WIOA requires a dual-customer approach, which means that your clients are also business, and what I love about Rose’s story is that what you’re doing is, you’re looking at the available jobs out there in the labor market, but not just trying to have your clients apply for those jobs that they’re never going to be able to qualify for, but seeing if they’re interested in this, getting them the certifications to get there.
Cherie Takemoto: So, one tool that I think is fabulous, it’s being used a lot in Florida, is the Career Index Plus. And this is something being made available by the Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center that I fondly call WINTAC. And what it does is it marries a lot of the labor market information data sets with the VR categories and client interests that folks have. This is a tool particularly for VR counselors, but also clients can use it.
Cherie Takemoto: So to test this out, I signed up a dummy account and used my son’s information because he’s a Ticket To Work client right now, and I put in what he’s conveyed to me as some of his interests, and I put his education and found a nice little niche for him that parallels one of his favorite jobs, which was being a recreation assistant at a nursing home. He just loved helping out with recreation. So while he couldn’t be a recreation leader, perhaps he could be an assistant. So I clicked on that, and I saw that most of those jobs require a BA or a Master’s. So there’s that disappointment of seeing a job out there, and not being able to apply for that job because he doesn’t meet the qualifications. But it’s nice, because this Career Index Plus also links to Indeed, which is one of the job boards, and highlights jobs in your area. So that was a positive thing.
Rick Sizemore: Wow. And that whole concept, of dealing with disappointment and reality and all the good information you can get from that Career Index Plus is just a real value. And thank you for adding that in on your report today. But I think there’s some things that the JDVRTAC that might help with that as well.
Cherie Takemoto: Yes. The Job Driven Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center, as you said, JDVRTAC, has this labor market information tool kit that helps you whether you’re in business development, a counselor, even clients, understand how to use that labor. What are the job openings in the state? But they also focus on informal ways of gathering labor market information from clients, from your business contacts, to build something from that. So in my son’s case, you would take that interest from Career Index Plus, and then you’d say, “Well, are there ways that we can customize something based on our own contacts?” So it builds from there.
Rick Sizemore: Thank you so much, Cherie. Always a pleasure to have you on the podcast.
Anne Hudlow: Cherie, thank you so much for taking the time to be here today.
Cherie Takemoto: My pleasure.
Rick Sizemore: All of our contact information, as well as how you can get in touch with Cherie Takemoto at the National Clearing House, is included in the show notes, along with links to resources and other information discussed on today’s show. You can find all that along with a full transcript at VRWorkforceStudio.com
Anne Hudlow: Special thanks to all of our partners in podcasting for help with today’s show. CVS Health, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, Virginia Manufacturers Association, Dominion Energy, the Valley To Virginia Grant, the Hershey Company, and the Community Foundation.
Rick Sizemore: Well, until next time, I’m Rick Sizemore.
Anne Hudlow: And I’m Anne Hudlow.
Rick Sizemore: Let’s go and be the spark that ignites vocational rehabilitation.
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