Contributed by Alyssa Chan, Communications & Event Planning Intern, & Liane Lowden, posAbilities Employment Specialist
We’d like to congratulate Andy Heuft on his 10-year employment milestone with McDonald’s! Andy shares about what his employment journey has been like so far and reveals what he aspires to do next.
Before connecting with posAbilities Employment Services (PES) over 10 years ago, Andy had no formal job training. He had completed a work experience term at a grocery store during his high school days, and had picked up transit skills when attending a day program at Aegis West. It was at that time that Andy first heard about the benefits of being employed. To Andy, employment meant gaining more experience, making new friends, and earning his own money. To get started on his career path, he began working with Employment Specialists at PES. “They helped me a lot,” he recalls, referring to the support they gave him in preparing his resume, practicing interview questions in advance, and learning how to make a work schedule.
Andy was attracted to McDonald’s because of its high team spirit, and one of the best things about his career is being able to do various types of tasks, as it helps Andy avoid getting bored on the job. He started off as a Lobby Attendant cleaning tables, windows, and washrooms, and greeting customers. Andy then took on a Grill Cook role before moving into his current position in maintenance. Although he prefers working behind the scenes to direct customer service, one of his favourite memories was interacting with customers while dressed up as Grimace, a McDonald’s mascot, for a special event!
Andy keeps in touch with some of his former workmates, and meets up with them for picnics at Lions Park in Port Coquitlam, maintaining a strong sense of community outside his work environment. Working at McDonalds has also meant more freedom in deciding how to spend his money, and becoming more responsible in other aspects of life. Andy has high praise for his managers who’ve helped him improve his reading, computer and online communication skills. In fact, it’s been many years since Andy has called on the PES team for support, but it’s good to know that they are there for him and his employer if something unexpected pops up at work.
Andy’s employment journey has been about going out into the world on his own, from the everyday independence that comes with taking the bus to work in the morning to International travel to exciting locations like the Dominican Republic, Dublin, Paris, and Las Vegas. What’s his favourite part of the experience? The food, of course!
His next career goal is to work in a factory and put the woodworking skills he gained in school to good use. He believes the hands-on experience he gained at McDonalds has prepared him well for a future woodworking job. Andy is also considering becoming a mentor with the PES Job Club, which will provide the opportunity to advise high school students about things like the what to expect at interviews, what they can do to build up their resumes, and how to find meaningful work. Like many young job seekers, he was nervous when searching for employment ten years ago, but encourages those who are new to the workforce to be friendly, work hard, smile, be alert, and know their workplace rights.
Andy doesn’t intend to have a huge party for his 10-year milestone – “I don’t like big celebrations,” Andy admits, “and I don’t like being the centre of attention.” He prefers to be low-key about his accomplishments, but he knows he will have many more milestone moments in his future.
Editor’s note: The BC government has created a $4.8 million grant for employees with disabilities and the organizations they build their careers in. The Employer Supports for Persons with Disabilities project, a collaboration between Small Business BC and the Presidents Group, is targeted towards employers to help people with disabilities maintain long-term successful employment. Read more about the province’s initiative here.