Staff Member Exemplifies Passion for a Job Well Done
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” ~Steve Jobs
If anyone at NYSID can say this about his chosen career path, it’s Contract Administration Specialist Eric Burke, who previously served as a job coach assisting individuals with disabilities to find rewarding employment. “I know firsthand the impact a job can have on someone’s day, week, year, or even entire life trajectory,” Eric says.
Stepping away from his daily duties in the administration of NYSID contracts, Eric shares more about his experiences in changing lives one job at a time:
“Those who help to empower, embolden and employ people with disabilities go by many titles. Whether it be job coach, employment specialist, job retention specialist, or direct support professional, the title does not fully capture the impact of the job. These individuals act as teachers, mentors, sales people, consultants, outreach specialists, and advocates on a daily basis. I know this because I have spent the majority of my adult life prior to joining NYSID in this career.
To most, a job is something we take for granted. To those who have been marginalized and regularly underestimated, a job can be everything. It can give them a purpose for getting up, going out and being an active member of their community.
In my job coach role, I would start by meeting each new client informally to get to know them and understand their employment goal. We would meet several more times to construct a resume, apply for jobs, practice interviews, work on eye contact and handshakes, and then visit potential employers. I was told by more than one employer that while the candidate seemed to meet the qualifications, they did not believe a person with a disability could ultimately do the job. I suggested that the only way to know whether an employer would be missing out on a valuable employee is to give someone a chance.
The amazing highs I shared with some incredible people I supported – the moment they learned they were hired! – are moments I will always carry with me. Thank you once again to all those involved in the mission to employ New Yorkers with disabilities and a very special thank you to all the job coaches on the front lines who will always have my respect and admiration.”