Disability and Employment: A Success Story

Amelia MaldonadoBlog

This blog is the third installment in a series about disability employment, legislation, innovation, and community partnership. In the first installment, we examined the movement toward full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace. The second installment discussed IRC Employment Specialists and their roles in local disability employment. In this installment, we will profile a local company and how it has incorporated IRC Consumers into its daily operations.

JDS Hires an Intern

About a year ago, JDS Studios in Temecula hired intern Conor Winters through the IRC Paid Internship Program. Conor is a DJ and has been working parties and events for the past 4 years. His work as a DJ led to an interest in sound mixing and the technical side of music. IRC Employment Specialist Beth Crane knew right away that an internship with JDS would help Conor further explore his interests.

JDS is a video production company specializing in news production, commercials, and marketing pieces. Beth felt Conor could expand his knowledge base working alongside JDS owner Diane Strand and her team! And that’s how the whole thing got started.

Conor and Diane

I met up with Conor and Diane to talk about what it’s been like working together.
Diane describes Conor as “a delight.” In fact, throughout our discussion about hiring an IRC intern, her enthusiasm was palpable! “Connor fills a hole I didn’t even know we had,” says Diane. “Because of what we do we would have never looked for a facilities person!” Diane says Conor has changed her business “phenomenally.”

Conor works at JDS studios in a variety of roles, with a focus on facilities management. He uses his creativity, problem-solving skills, and knack for organization to help keep JDS running smoothly. A friendly yet reserved young man, Conor brings a peace and calm to a bustling business like JDS. Painting sets, organizing costumes, and building a haunted house are just some of the projects Conor rattled off when I ask him to tell me about the gig at JDS. A guy who likes a challenge, Conor says he likes that “it’s always something different” at JDS.

From Intern to Direct Hire

Conor recently celebrated his one-year anniversary working as an intern at JDS. And guess what? He will soon be transitioning from intern to direct hire! He will be working as a Facilities Coordinator. And that’s not all— working with Conor inspired Diane to create a hands-on video production training program for IRC Consumers. Attendees of Diane’s program will learn the technical trade of video production, including camera work, audio, lighting and more. Jointly they will learn the ins and outs of the workplace culture. Things, like maintaining a schedule, reading and responding to email, team dynamics and more, will also be taught!

The beauty of this story is simple. An open mind and creative programming can create a space where people with disabilities can pursue their goals. Conor, Diane, and JDS are proof that this is happening right now in our community!

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Amelia Maldonado

Amelia is IRC's Community Relations Specialist and an expert on all things IRC. You will frequently find her typing away on her laptop, creating social media/web content, agency publications, and more. Outside of work her passions include smooshy face dogs, fitness, and roller derby!

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