"The Big Pay Back"

Many companies and organizations have programs where its employees can give back to the communities surrounding the company or organization. Giving back can be in the form of a company-wide community service day, matching funds for donations employees make to various charities or organizations, company sponsorship of charity events, donations of goods or services to non-profits, etc. The possibilities are endless. Companies and organizations do this because they are important part of the communities in which they reside. They see the value of that community and want to help sustain and support it. Many employees will participate in company opportunities to “Give Back” because they are part of the company’s community, they feel good about helping others, or just because they feel it’s the right thing to do.

Whether looking for a job or if you are already employed you too can give back. There are many ways to give back to the community, monetary donations, donations of goods and services, giving your own time and volunteering, attending a fund raising event, etc. Showing a company you want to work for that you value the surrounding community is quality most companies look for in an employee.

On May 5, 2015 The Arc Davidson County and Greater Nashville will be participating in The Community Foundations “The Big Payback”. This is one day where The Arc Davidson County and Greater Nashville will ask for help in raising money. All monies raised will directly benefit programs such as Employment Services, Family Support, and Support Coordination. Please consider helping The Arc DCGN in its efforts to raise as much as possible in 24 hours. No donation is too small. Here is your chance to boost your community involvement and show employers that you care about the community.

Don't Give Up

Starting a new job can be exciting, nerve wracking, and scary all at once. Everyone gets nervous, overwhelmed, and scared when starting a new job. There is a lot to get used to; a new routine, new co-workers, new managers, different environment. Using your supports can be the key to transitioning successfully into your new work place. There are a lot of things you can do to help make your new job less scary and to help you be successful. One thing you should not do is give up after the first day.

The first day maybe easy or it can be overwhelming. It is important to communicate your feelings to your job coach or service provider. It is their job to help you work through those feelings and to find ways to be successful at your job. Some of the tools they give you could have immediate results, others may take some time. One thing to note is that you are not alone. Your job coach and service provider are there to help you through the start of your employment.

So while you may have great days and some not so great days when starting a new job, don’t give up. Work with your job coach and service provider, your employer knows you are the right person for the job that is why they hired you.

The Community Foundation Middle Tennessee Grant

The Arc Davidson Country & Greater Nashville is honored to be the recipient of a grant from the Bonnie R. Bashford Fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. The Foundation awarded the grant to The Arc DCGN to help support our Employment Skills Program in the Community Based Transition Program in the Metro Nashville Public School System. The Community Foundation awarded more than $1.65 million in grants to 265 nonprofit organizations as part of The Foundation’s 2014 annual discretionary grant making.

The Arc DCGN is working with students aged 18-22 who have Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and are enrolled in the Community Based Transition Program. Transition students attend classes in the community and work at different locations throughout Nashville. The Arc DCGN provides additional training to these students to help them prepare for employment after completing the Community Based Transition Program. In the second semester, classes will focus on interviewing skills, preparing a resume, understanding work place dynamics, and helping students gain confidence to speak for themselves. The goal of the Employment Skills Program is to help students successfully find and retain employment.

The Community Foundation awards discretionary grants annually from its unrestricted and field-of-interest funds, through an open application process, to Middle Tennessee nonprofit organizations addressing community needs and benefiting the well-being of citizens through valuable programs and innovative services. The Foundation connects generosity with need in order to build a stronger community for the future. To learn more, please visit www.CFMT.org.

The Arc DCGN is excited to have been selected for this grant and we look forward a partnership with The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. We would like to thank them for this opportunity and look forward to the success of the students this grant will help!


The Arc Davidson County and Greater Nashville is pleased to announce a new program; Retail Employees with Disabilities or REDI which is a Walgreens training program that will help prepare people with disabilities to be qualified candidates for positions in our stores, as well as in any business that requires similar retail or customer service skills.

We have partnered with Walgreens and The Department of Human Services Vocational Rehabilitation Services to provide this program to people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

The REDI program will prepare our individuals for our employment at a Walgreens store or a business that requires similar retail and customer service skills. Walgreens store managers have trained a qualified Arc Davidson County and Greater Nashville Job Coach in all aspects of the REDI program. Our job coach then uses their Walgreens training experience and the REDI training curriculum to train individuals selected for the program to do all of the tasks of a Walgreens service clerk.

At the conclusion of training, the store manager evaluates the individual. If the individual graduates REDI with a recommendation for hire, Walgreens will work with The Arc Davidson County and Greater Nashville to find a nearby store that is hiring. Walgreens will also connect with other local retailers and provide a reference for the individual.

We are very excited about this program and all the possibilities it will provide for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To get more information about the REDI program please contact the Employment Services Program at 615-321-5699.

Sending a Thank You Notes after an Interview

A simple thank you could be the difference between getting the job and not getting the job. You have worked hard finding an open position, submitting a resume, and then preparing for the interview. Your interview went well but the work is not done. After the interview is over you should send the hiring manager or human resource manager a thank you note. This could mean the difference between getting the job or not.

The thank you note serves many purposes. It shows you appreciate the time the hiring manager took to meet with you; it reminds them that you are interested in the position, it demonstrates good follow through, and it shows you have good manners. Some items to include in your thank you note are:

  • The hiring manager’s name
  • The title of the open position
  • Something specific about the interview or important items discussed
  • Your interest in the position
  • Your appreciation for their time (the “thank you” part)
  • Your recognition of the next steps in the hiring process
  • Your contact information

The thank you note does not have to be a long letter. You can keep it simple and still show your appreciation. The thank you note can help you stand out among other potential candidates. You have put a lot of effort to get this far in your job search; going that extra length could help you reach your goal of getting a job.

For more information on thank you notes after an interview click here.

Volunteering to Gain Employment Skills

Searching for employment can be a difficult task even with a wealth of experience. It can be almost impossible when you don’t have the basic employment skills. Employment skills include team work, conflict resolution, communication, time management and so on. So the question becomes, how do you find a job when you don’t have the experience? One option is to volunteer.

Volunteering with an employer can be a win-win situation for all involved.

  1. The individual gets a foot in the door in a field they’re interested in.

  2. Individuals are learning new skills.

  3. Individuals are learning what they like and don’t like about their field of interest.

  4. Employers receive additional assistance in their place of business.

  5. The opportunity for future jobs is possible.

Meet our friend Conner. Conner had a strong interest in Athletics. He loves being in an environment that has anything to do with athletes, athletic training, as well as health and wellness. Because Conner never had an actual job in his field of interest, he was somewhat limited in basic employment skills and in the area of Athletics and sports training.

Enter a premiere athletic training facility in the Nashville area. This athletic facility works with/serves a variety of athletes. They promote wellness through a variety of training and coaching programs to its members. 

This facility needed voluntary assistance with basic every day housekeeping tasks. Currently, this is not a paid position and was not being attended to in a regular manner. The Arc’s solution was to provide a volunteer, Conner, who loves athletics and was looking for employment skills. Together, with a privately paid job coach, Conner volunteers once a week at D1. Conner is a great asset to this training facility as the picture below shows.

By Conner volunteering, even one day a week, The training facility is getting the help they need with basic housekeeping tasks, Conner is ecstatic to visit the athletic training facility every week, and Conner is also gaining valuable employment skills that he can utilize where-ever he goes.


Coach Jeremy and Conner (Pictured above). Conner has quickly become one of the guys and is popular among the coaches and the members. Conner has been volunteering since May and will continue through the summer. In the fall he will be attending college at Lipscomb University as a student in their IDEAL program.

Coach Jeremy and Conner (Pictured above). Conner has quickly become one of the guys and is popular among the coaches and the members. Conner has been volunteering since May and will continue through the summer. In the fall he will be attending college at Lipscomb University as a student in their IDEAL program.

Preparing For An Interview

Shaking hands with your interviewer allows you to be sure you leave a good impression.

Shaking hands with your interviewer allows you to be sure you leave a good impression.

Preparing for an interview can be a daunting task. You can outshine the competition with a little preparation:

1. Research the company's profile and background. Start by looking into their future goals and plans. Conducting the interview with this in mind will make you seem like a good long-term investment. You should also be ready to talk in depth about the industry, the organization, and the position you are applying for.

  • Learn your interviewer’s name and job position before going to the interview. You may need to call the company to find out.

  • Talk to current employees. Show initiative while getting a feel for the office environment.

  • Know as much about the company as possible. You can't change your employment history or your qualifications, but you can work harder than every other applicant by being supremely knowledgeable about the company. Use the company's website, their annual report, and newspaper/business magazine articles to gather as much information as possible.

2. Think of questions to ask your interviewer. Participating actively during the interview gives a good impression of your level of interest in the job. It's a good idea to come prepared with at least three thought-provoking questions to ask your interviewer.

  • Ask questions that reflect your interest in future prospects. “Which are new markets the company is planning to explore in next couple of years?” or “What are the chances for professional growth in this job opportunity?” both show that you want to be on the same page as the people you’ll be working for.

  • Ask questions to bond with the interviewer and project your enthusiasm.

  • Ask questions about what is discussed during the interview itself.

3. Anticipate questions from the interviewer. It’s best to prepare for a wide variety of questions by thinking about your own career goals, long-term plans, past successes, and work strengths, but you should also brace yourself for the deceptively simple questions that most employers like to throw at their interviewees.

  • “What’s your biggest weakness?”

  • “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

  • “Why do you want this job?”

  • “Why did you leave your last job?” is a common question that shouldn’t be hard to answer provided that you didn’t have a major blowout with your previous employer. If you did, be honest (without being bitter or laying blame, as this will make you look ungracious and hard to work with) and try to put a positive spin on things.

  • Don't be afraid to admit that you don't know something.

4. Dress for the interview. As a rule of thumb, you should dress for the interview the way you would for the job itself. Avoid wearing perfume, after-shave, or scented lotion (but do wear deodorant).

  • Applicants in banking or wealth management, business, academia, politics, and health-related sectors should show up for an interview in business formal clothing unless otherwise noted. For women, this means a skirt suit or pant suit in a dark color, along with closed toe shoes and subtle makeup. For men, this means a dark-colored suit and tie and dark-colored shoes.

  • Applicants in the service sector are usually invited to wear business casual to an interview, although business formal is optional. For women, this means a simple, knee length dress with conservative shoes (no jeans). For men, this means dark or khaki pants with a collared button-up and leather shoes.

  • If you're unsure of the customary interview clothing expected by the company, simply ask the HR rep or interview liaison.

5. Show up in the best possible shape. Make sure you know exactly how to get there and just where to park so that you can arrive 15 to 20 minutes before the scheduled interview time. Go to bed early the day (or the days) before the interview so that you look rested and healthy on the big day. Bring an extra copy of your resume, CV, and/or references in case your interviewer wants to go over any points with you or neglects to bring their own copy.

  • If the interview is in the morning, be sure to eat a healthy breakfast. This is not just an empty suggestion. A breakfast high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and foods high in vitamin E, such as nuts and seeds, will help improve brain function and leave you feeling more alert and invigorated.

  • Consider exercising before the interview to annihilate stress and increase blood flow. Shower after exercising

6. Show courtesy to everyone during the interview. This means everyone from the reception staff to the interviewer herself. You never know who has input in the hiring process, and you can only make a first impression once.

  • Look everyone in the eye and smile.

  • Speak clearly and say "please" and "thank you."

  • Don't noodle around on your phone or electronic device while waiting.

7. Be honest. Many people think that an interview is the perfect time to embellish. While you want to structure your answers so that your best, most qualified aspects take center stage, you don't want to deceive or outright lie. Companies do perform background checks, and lying about your experience is simply not worth it.

8. Keep things simple and short. Talking about yourself can be very difficult to well: You're trying to convince someone you don't know that you're qualified for a position without sounding too cocky or pompous. Stick to what you know well, and keep things short and sweet.

  • Structure your answers so that you're talking in 30-90 second chunks.

  • Don't use slang or off-color humor during your interview.

  • Talk about what other people think you do well.

9. Be personable. Try to come off as a genuinely likable person if you can. Being personable is about getting the interviewer's emotional side to like you and believe in you. Employers don't always hire the candidates most qualified for the job, but rather the candidates they like the best.

10. Shake hands with the interviewer and exchange pleasantries. Try to invest some feeling into the handshake and pleasantries, even if you think you bombed the interview. The interviewer should give you a time frame for when to expect to get a callback, if applicable.  



Setting Goals

Definition of Goal –
1. In football, soccer, rugby, hockey, and some other games a pair of posts linked by a crossbar and often with a net attached behind it, forming a space into or over which the ball has to be sent in order to score.
2. The object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.

Questions were asked of the group:

  1. How many of you have set goals for yourself before?

  2. What type of goals did you set?

  3. Why do we need to set goals?

  4. What happens when we don’t set goals?

  5. Some goals seem almost impossible to reach. How do you make a big goal achievable?

From there we discussed examples of goals and then the difference between short-term and long-term goals.

A short-term goal is something relatively basic that you plan to accomplish in 4-6 weeks, like saving money for a new CD. A long-term goal is something you want to accomplish in the distant future that may require several steps to complete, like planning for college or a trip across the ocean. This may take a year or more to finish.

Before reaching this goal there are several (achievable!) steps you must complete:

SMART Goal Example: I want to start a business.

  1. Make it SPECIFIC:
    I will sell handmade cards through Etsy.com.

  2. Make it MEASURABLE:
    I will be ready to take my first Etsy order within four weeks, and I will aim to sell a minimum of five cards per week.

  3. Make it ATTAINABLE:
    I will get set up on Etsy first. Then, I will build an inventory of 30 handmade cards to sell. Finally, I will promote my business and build customer relationships through word of mouth, referrals and local networking.

  4. Make it REALISTIC:
    Selling handmade cards will allow me to benefit financially from my favorite hobby.

  5. Make it TIMELY:
    My Etsy store will be up and running within four weeks, and I will have an inventory of 30 cards to sell within six weeks.

SMART Goal: Within a month, I am going to get set up to sell handmade cards on Etsy, which will allow me to benefit financially from my favorite hobby. Within six weeks, I will have an inventory of 30 handmade cards to sell and aim to sell a minimum of five cards per week, building customer relationships through word of mouth, referrals and local networking.

Individuals in attendance split into family groups and came up with at least one goal for the specific life category they wanted to work within (Work, Family, Exercise, Friendship, Finances, Education, Home, Spirituality). All individuals left with an index card containing at least one goal for their future and their steps on how to accomplish that goal.

For more information, please contact Colleen Gibson at cgibson@arcdc.org or 321-5699 x35.

The next Employment Services Networking Group – Interview Skills 101 will meet on Saturday, June 28, 10-11:30am, at The Arc Davidson County.

Mock Interviews: Preparing for the Job Search

For the past school year The Arc Davidson County has been in four of the Metro Nashville Community Based Transition Program (CBTP) classrooms. During this time we worked with students on self-led IEP’s, self advocacy and employment skills. We did this through classroom instructions and various exercises. We had a great time! To conclude the employment skills portion of our time with the students, and to wrap up everything we had discussed throughout the year, The Arc had the honor of holding mock interviews with one of the Community Based Classrooms.

The feedback from the interviews was important for the students (and anyone else participating) so they know what to work on and how to prepare for the real thing!

Preparing for a job search can never start too early!

Interviewing can be one of the most intimidating experiences for anyone. Conducting mock interviews is a great way to help ease anxieties for the job applicant and teaches valuable communication skills. Mock interviews can  also help you collect your thoughts, learn more about a specific company and/or position, and help gain confidence. We highly recommend it.

For more information on Metro’s CBTP, visit http://mnpstransition.com/cbtp/
For tips on interviewing skills, visit http://www.smcvt.edu/Experience/Careers-and-Internships/Interview-Skills.aspx

Upcoming Events Reminder:
May 29th and 30th: Tennessee Disability MegaConference, http://www.tndisabilitymegaconference.org/
May 31st, 10-11:30pm: Employment Services Networking Group monthly meeting. This month’s topic: Goal Setting.  RVSP to cgibson@arcdc.org

It is OK to Ask for Help

As we become adults we learn that it is important to do things for ourselves. In all areas of our lives such as home, social circles, and work; being independent shows the world that we are no longer dependent on others to get what we want and need. While being independent is an important part of being an adult it does not mean we can’t ask for help, especially on the job.

When to Ask for Help:

  • When you don’t understand something asked of you

  • Find a task difficult to master

  • Just not connecting with the tasks required to be successful at your job

How to Ask for Help:

  • Ask what something means if you don’t know

  • Say you don’t understand

  • Say you are confused and need clarification

Who to Ask for Help:

  • Supervisor

  • Co-worker

  • Friend

  • Family member

  • Service Provider

Knowing where your challenges lie and looking to others to help you overcome those challenges shows your understanding of yourself and your drive to be successful and independent. Asking for help or assistance does not mean you are not independent because in the end it will be up to you to decide how to use the help given. It could as simple as asking a question, getting the answer, and putting that information to use or as complicated as asking for resources needed to help you get the job done. What is important is that you contribute to the solution and take action to implement the ideas given to you. By asking for help and taking action once help is given shows that you are a team player, want to be successful, and can understand your challenges but not let them get in your way.

Stress and Anger Management

On Sat, 26 the Employment Services Networking Club discussed stress and anger management.  Anger is a normal human emotion, and can range from mild irritation to an intense rage or fury. Anger is stressful. Learning to manage stress doesn't mean a stress-free life, but you may enjoy life more with simple techniques that can slow down the stressors in your life.

Triggers and Early Warning Signs
One of the first steps in managing your anger is to identify what types of situations usually trigger your anger. Stress often increases when we experience one or more of the following:

  • short on sleep

  • been eating lousy

  • working too much

  • multi-tasking

  • too much caffeine

  • heavy traffic conditions

  • jobs that are tedious

  • jobs requiring extreme attention concentration

  • have too many things to do in a day

  • certain people create stress for you

  • violent movies

  • horror movies

  • certain kinds of music

    Some situations you may be able to avoid, such as planning ahead to avoid running late. Other situations are less in your control, such as being cut off in traffic, but you can control what your response will be.

    When you realize you’re angry, it’s good to know why you’re feeling angry, and acknowledge it. It’s also important to know how to move past the anger so you don’t respond in a way that is out of proportion or taking out the anger on the wrong person.

    There are a number of techniques you can use to move past your anger:

    Time Out: Remove yourself from the situation for a period of time, to give yourself a chance to ‘cool down’ and think things through before you act.

    Distraction: If you cannot change the situation, it can help to distract yourself from whatever is making you angry by:

  • counting to ten

  • listening to music

  • calling a friend to chat

  • doing housework

Stop and Breathe: From the lower abdomen, breath in slowly and deeply through the nose, hold a few seconds. Slowly exhale through the mouth; blow out of the mouth as if blowing out a candle. Repeat at least 10 times.

Humor: While it is not always possible to just ‘laugh your problems away,’ you can often use humor to help you to take a step back from your anger. Imagine or draw someone dressed in a clown suit with big shoes and a red nose. If you picture this image every time, it will be much easier to keep things in perspective.  Figure out what makes you laugh and keep it on hand for when you’re upset.

Relaxation: Relaxation techniques such as listening to music, practicing yoga, progressively tensing and relaxing each of your muscle groups, prayer, meditation or visualizing calm (a beautiful beach, mountain with snowflakes fluttering to the ground, a butterfly) can help reduce anger.

Self-talk and Helpful Thinking: How you’re thinking affects how you’re feeling, so focusing on negative thoughts such as ‘this is so unfair’ will maintain the angry feeling. Instead try repeating a calming word or phrase such as ‘relax’ or ‘take it easy’ or ‘it’s not as bad as it seems’ or ‘I can get through this’ or ‘this too shall pass.’

Because anger is often an automatic response, all of these techniques require practice. Remember to take it one step at a time. The more you practice, the easier the process gets. For additional ideas you can also print out the 101 stress reliever pdf at http://www.maryville.edu/studentlife/files/2013/11/101-Stress-Relievers.pdf

If you continue to feel overwhelmed, consult with a psychologist or other licensed health professional who can help you learn how to control your anger.


Saturday, May 31, 2014: Networking Club Topic

Not all goals are the same. BUT - anyone who sets goals has an edge and people with an edge will achieve their goals more consistently! They gain more experience and confidence than those who choose to not set goals and look at their personal motivations. This workshop will help you set goals, make a plan and bring your thought into action!

Meet our Employment Team

Welcome to our new Employment Blog! The Arc Employment Services team is comprised of Colleen Gibson and Kate Goetzinger. Colleen and Kate will be blogging about topics in the employment field and resources for adults with disabilities who are employed or seeking employment.

Together this dynamic duo assists adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in finding and maintaining employment. They also partner with employers as they hire and support individuals with disabilities. The Arc Davidson County’s Employment Services program is at the forefront of one of the nation’s hottest topics, employing people with disabilities.

Colleen Gibson with Clayton, serving an employee lunch at an employment site.

Colleen Gibson with Clayton, serving an employee lunch at an employment site.

Colleen Gibson, Employment Services Coordinator, has a B.S. in Business Administration and is working on her M.A. in Ministry and Disaster Relief. Colleen has been with The Arc Davidson County’s Employment Program since its inception in 2013. Colleen is a veteran when it comes to assisting individuals with IDD in Metro Public Schools and in the Employment field. She has two children, a daughter and an adult son with disabilities. She believes 100% that all individuals are employable with the appropriate supports in place.

Kate with her friend Jeannie, at an employment site.

Kate with her friend Jeannie, at an employment site.

Kate Finn, Director of Employment Services, has a B.A. in Psychology. Prior to joining The Arc Davidson County in October 2013, Kate worked as an educator for 12 years in private high schools, holding various positions including: Technology teacher, IT Director, and Admissions Director. Throughout her employment, Kate has enjoyed working most with families with students who have disabilities.


Please feel free to contact Kate or Colleen anytime for questions, assistance, or if you are an employer looking to hire individuals with disabilities.

The Arc Davidson County
Employment Services Program
111 Wilson Blvd. N
Nashville, TN 37205