My work placement with CYCJ: Thomas Dalli

Thomas Dalli joined CYCJ’s Office Support Team on a 10 week work placement, starting in September 2023. Thomas joined us via Project SEARCH, a transition-to-work programme which supports young adults with learning disabilities, or autism spectrum disorders to access opportunities in the workplace. During his time with us, Thomas has become an asset to the team, and he will continue to be involved in CYCJ work in different ways. With his placement coming to an end this week, Thomas took the time to reflect on his experience, and what he’s learned over the last 10 weeks.   

I have learned from my internship how to become an effective office support worker/admin assistant. A mentality has developed within me as to how to efficiently work within an office setting, and how to contribute to tasks effectively so that the workload is more evenly shared. If I didn’t do a task, then someone else would have to do it. I have learned how to conduct tasks at an appropriate pace, and how to communicate appropriately/effectively in an office setting.

The skills that I have developed are teamwork/engagement/respect for people, listening skills, more IT skills, logistics skills, more resources such as Canva and Mailchimp and flexibility in my approach to work tasks, moving out of my comfort zone in trying new skills/things. All of these skills will stand me in good stead for when I enter further employment, wherever that may be. It is well documented that, due to my autism, I have struggled with some of the above. But I have ploughed through the time, meaning that my skills in these areas are now fully honed.

CYCJ is a great organisation, I could not fault it. The work they do for children and young people primarily across Scotland (contributing all around the world as well) is immeasurable. The impact of the organisation is, I’m sure, widely felt across the whole of Scotland, and worldwide too. Being here has helped me forge new connections and contribute to better practise for the care experienced community (which I’m proudly a member of), even before my current internship. This internship has allowed me to see the back end (so to speak) of the goings on at CYCJ. I’ve experienced how to set up for events/event registration, booking travel/accommodation for staff members and the typing up of minutes. These experiences have invaluably helped my personal development through life (both in a personal/professional capacity). I would describe my care experience as being very niche, through being in a respite home from time to time as a child so my mum could have a well-deserved break from looking after me, through being under an adult guardianship order for two years (well needed in hindsight). I am so glad to be part of a community who understand me for who I am and what I have become, and I can’t wait to further contribute to the field of care experience research/knowledge.

As this blog is meant to be about my internship, I should mention the capacity in which I’m at CYCJ. I’m here on an intern placement arranged by Project Search. Project Search is an intensive work experience course for interns. It is designed for people with learning disabilities and/or autism. It consists of 3 x 10-week placements (or the intern could leave the programme sooner if they enter employment, which the programme is designed for). Each placement needs to last for a minimum of 20 hours per week. My programme is located at Strathclyde University in Glasgow and is part of the City of Glasgow College. My programme is also run by Glasgow City Council and their Supported Employment Service. My programme is facilitated by a lecturer and two job coaches. Staff on the programme can also support with interviews, CVs and job searching. I absolutely believe that more organisations should sign up to host Project Search interns as it would, in my view, be of great value to them. As alluded to above, the ability to split the workload more evenly amongst employees would benefit your specific department. It would also, I’m sure, enhance the reputation of your department in that you’ll be viewed as being more socially responsible.

I have overcome some challenges whilst on my current internship at CYCJ. When I first started my current internship, I was a young male with some social difficulties. I was very fixed both in my way of thinking and in my approach to work tasks. Towards the end of the internship, I realised that I needed to be more flexible in my approach to how I communicate with individuals, and how I approach my workload. I’m also a lot more aware that facts/circumstances can change over time and that I need to be more flexible in my approach now.

This internship has definitely affected me (very positively) in the sense that I’m more confident in an office environment. I am also more self-aware in that I know my limits have increased and also what I’m truly capable of.

Reflecting on Thomas’s placement, Jade Gilmour at Project SEARCH said:

“Project SEARCH is an intensive work experience programme for young adults with learning disabilities and / or autistic spectrum condition based here at The University.  CYCJ volunteered to provide the first rotation for Thomas which has proved to be a really beneficial experience for him.  The support and guidance from staff within CYCJ has contributed towards a fuller understanding of the office environment and social skills / behaviours required for Thomas.  We are sure this will help Thomas into his transition to rotation 2 with Education.”

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Children's and Young People's Centre for Justice
University of Strathclyde
Lord Hope Building, Level 6
141 St. James Road Glasgow G4 0LT

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