As an animal lover, Nicholas Barker has found a second home working at Petco. When Dana, a counselor from The Choice Group, and Nick started working together to find employment, his two interests were animals and gaming. When Dana and Nick first started working together, they applied to Game Stop because he has an immense knowledge of many different games. But, one of the main responsibilities of an employee there would be having to work the cash register and Nick had an aversion to that particular part of the job. Having Asperger's, social interaction can sometimes be stressful for Nick. Their next strategy was Petco. Dana thought perhaps Nick could find commonality with others through their love of pets. Because he liked animals so much it seemed like a good fit— and it was! He began to love the people who shared his passion. At first, when meeting for an interview, he was very nervous and didn’t necessarily interview the best, but his love of pets was clear and that’s what got him the job— as long as he never had to work the cash register!
He began working 4 hours a week stocking shelves, which helped him learn where everything was. He then began learning pet care. He started with the small furry creatures, like guinea pigs and rabbits because the faster moving pets made him nervous. However, once he got the hang of one task, he always wanted to learn another! He started working with reptiles and then birds and he was able to add up to 10 hours a week on his schedule because of all the new things he was learning. Eventually, he asked for more, but the only way to add more hours to his schedule was to learn the one thing he didn’t want to do! That’s right, the cash register.
Nicholas is a fast learner, and a lover of learning in steps, so he and Dana decided together that the first step was to “shadow” fellow coworkers, listening to interactions on pet care advice and more. Methodically working with Dana on how to “read” customers, Nick finally decided that he was going to try the register one day a week. For nearly a month, he worked with another coworker doing register duties and he was great! It turns out that his aptitude for learning in steps was perfect for learning cash register procedure.
Not only does Nick now work 15-20 hours a week, but he’s in charge of the entire front of store operations. When his manager moved to another location, she invited him to work at her new store in addition to his current location. Nicholas feels right at home in Petco. He has become the rock star of the store. Because he has worked every position possible within the store and has memorized step-by-step procedure, he is THE go-to guy and a great trainer of new employees.
Maintaining his 20 hours a week schedule allows Nick to keep his disability pay. He may be capable one day of getting off of disability support as he doesn’t rely on medication. Nick is an avid gamer, again feeding into his love of following step by step procedure. Now that he has gained confidence at Petco, achieving something he never thought he could accomplish, it is possible for him to use The Choice Group again, and get the training he needs to for a second job at Game Stop, where he no doubt would excel.