Most new transition students are curious about what employment is all about. Joe Jones is a little different: when he started his first year at the Bend transition co-op this September, he was already established in a job, and had been getting a paycheck for almost ten months.

Jones, age 18, has been working at McDonalds in Bend since December of 2020. At that time, he was a student at Bend High School, and he applied for the job with the help of Adrianne Goodrich, the Youth Transition Program specialist for Bend HS and La Pine HS. This year, he enrolled in the Bend transition co-op’s half-day program, and continues to work at McDonalds every Wednesday.

“Students have to get used to a lot of new faces and new routines when they start in the transition co-op. Often they wait til they get used to things before they start thinking about jobs. So, to come into the program already working, like Joe—that is pretty impressive,” said Wendy Beall, Autism and TBI Consultant for the HDESD.

Jones felt a bit nervous about his job at McDonalds when he first started, he said. Another person on the McDonald’s staff helped him learn how to manage all the tasks he was expected to do, until he felt comfortable working independently. He is responsible for dishwashing, clearing and cleaning tables, and helping in other ways as needed.

This job keeps him active and moving during his shifts, and that’s what Jones prefers. “I like to work hard, and I like keeping busy,” he said.

Jones plans to keep exploring other types of job opportunities through transition co-op activities. For example, he is participating in a new internship experience that the transition co-op has developed with Costco. Each week during the internship, a small group of students goes with a teacher to the Costco store in Bend. They learn how employees clock in and get to know how the store operates. The students also take on short projects, with the help of their teacher, to learn skills they’d need as Costco employees.

Between his current position at McDonalds and new learning opportunities, Jones is off to a strong start as a transition student!