Student gains career confidence thanks to HSDC Supported Internship

May 25, 2022

Jay smiling in his Waitrose uniform

Confidence gained through the HSDC Supported Internship scheme has helped a student to achieve his goal of paid employment.

South Downs Campus student Jay Holton enrolled on the Supported Internship scheme to  gain the skills, confidence and knowledge needed to secure a job in the future.

The scheme is designed for people with additional support needs. Alongside work placements, Supported Interns attend college to continue with Mathematics, English and other relevant skills.

Almost a year ago, Jay applied for a position with Waitrose in Petersfield. Jay, who is on the autism spectrum, was successful in receiving an interview and eagerly awaited to attend with Chrissie Nolan, his job coach. 

Chrissie said:

“Before the interview started, I requested a meeting with the manager and HR and asked if they had training interviewing people who may be on the autism spectrum, both answered no. 

“I asked if I could reframe questions should I observe Jay has not understood the question both agreed saying, yes please.”

Although Jay was unsuccessful in his application for the position, Chrissie spoke to the manager after the interview about the Supported Internship programme Jay was attending at HSDC South Downs. Jay checking stock on the shelves at Waitrose

Waitrose was able to see his drive and determination and offered Jay an opportunity to gain a work placement with them whilst being supported by both his job coach and staff mentor, with a view to paid employment in the future.

Jay gladly accepted this role and although he found aspects tricky at first, he began to thrive, learning stock rotation, health and safety in the workplace, moving and handling goods and customer service. 

His confidence grew and in October 2021 he began as a fully-fledged paid employee with his very own grocery section to take control of.

Jay, 23, said:

“I’m proud to be working for Waitrose. I’m enjoying learning how to display different products and my confidence is growing in dealing with customers.”

Robert Dorn, Retail Team Manager, said:

“Jay has become a much-valued member of the Partnership, gradually building up his work content and gaining knowledge across a number of areas. He works completely autonomously and reports his progress periodically. 

“He’s gained a lot of confidence and is pushing himself to do more. It’s been a pleasure to work with Jay.”

We offer Supported Internships at both our South Downs and Alton campuses. Find out more about our Supported Internship scheme on our course pages.