Like some college students returning home for the summer, Aaron Lagunoff wanted to find a seasonal position to earn money and gain experience in the hospitality industry. As a young man with autism, Lagunoff has struggled with speech disfluency issues, which has been a barrier in obtaining internships or employment.
Despite previous employment-related challenges, the Beacon College senior has refused to give up on his dream to work in hospitality despite his speech challenges. He demonstrated confidence in his ability to get the job done once he is given the chance.
“Whenever I communicate, I tend to stutter, so my language is not processed well enough,” Lagunoff said. “But my speech disfluency hasn’t stopped me before and it isn’t stopping me now. I know that I am capable of performing the job and sometimes I need to explain my speech issues to my supervisor.”
Anticipating his desire to work over the summer and unsure where to begin looking for a position within the hospitality industry, Lagunoff connected with Hire Autism, OAR’s employment initiative, over his spring break after his mother learned of the program. After registering on the Hire Autism website, he worked with Hire Autism Associate Naina Chernoff to find summer work.
“I know that I am capable of performing the job.”
Chernoff helped Lagunoff identify possible opportunities and soon connected Aaron to an opportunity at Army Navy Country Club (ANCC) in Arlington, VA. Lagunoff followed up with the potential employer to arrange for a meeting to talk about a potential job for the summer.
“Army Navy Country Club has a strong record of giving back to the community,” Director of Clubhouse Operations Andrew Welch said. “Working with young people, such as Aaron, who have a desire to learn is one of the ways we can do that. We’ve been encouraged by our relationship with Hire Autism and look forward to providing others on the autism spectrum an opportunity to grow.”
Not defined by his struggles, Lagunoff possesses many strengths that make him an asset in the workplace. A team player who prides himself on being punctual and motivated by his passion to work in the hospitality industry, Lagunoff would rank highly on any employers list.
During the summer, ANCC is a busy place with patrons and guests moving about, and employees working their hardest to keep the club running smoothly.
“We’ve been encouraged by our relationship with Hire Autism
and look forward to providing others on the autism spectrum
an opportunity to grow,” Welch said.
“We were pleased to employ Lagunoff in our housekeeping department,” Welch said. “It’s turned out to be a win-win relationship as he’s been a big help during our busy summer season. We hope that Lagunoff’s experience at ANCC will help him to continue with a career in hospitality after he graduates from Beacon College.”
Overall, Lagunoff has had a pleasant interview experience with ANCC. At his initial interview, they discussed the job expectations, internship salary options, and Lagunoff’s questions.
“I asked lots of questions,” Lagunoff said. “[My interviewers] gave me elaborate answers as to what to do.”
Last summer, Lagunoff participated in the Disney College Program, completing a hospitality internship at the Polynesian Resort. He gained practical experience as a custodian and took some day classes.
“I like that people work together
to achieve a common goal for their department.”
This summer, his job at Army Navy Country Club has not presented many difficulties that Lagunoff couldn’t overcome. When Lagunoff does stumble upon a confusing task or a novel situation, he can rely on his bosses to give him a helping hand.
“My employers tend to treat me with care, and they help me any way they can,” Lagunoff said. “Just in case I get confused about my job description or my duties.”
As Lagunoff completes his work experience at Army Navy Country Club, he is learning skills that will help him towards his hospitality major as well as future work. More than that, he gets to be a part of a team that strives to provide the best service possible.
“I like that people work together to achieve a common goal,” Lagonoff said.
Hire Autism works to promote the unique talents and abilities of job seekers with autism.
Support OAR’s Hire Autism program by making a donation.