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'A good start for me': Project SEARCH interns prepare for the workforce

Middle Georgia State University and Bibb County Schools are partners in helping the students succeed.

MACON, Ga. — Project SEARCH is a program with roots in Cincinnati. It started in 1996 at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, where the director of the emergency department was upset she didn't have enough employees from entry-level jobs. She started hiring people with disabilities, and the program took off from there.

Now, there are 500 programs in total that range across 9 countries. 

Bibb Schools and Middle Georgia State University have been partnering since  2019 to help prepare students for the workforce through this program. 

The students have the opportunity to work on different spots on campus such as Starbucks, campus dining, the bookstore, and other locations. 

This year, there are eight Project SEARCH interns. One of those interns is Nicholas Haynes.

Haynes works at the Middle Georgia State University bookstore, and he said he loves his job. 

"It helps me get some experience and stuff, me personally I've never had a job before," Haynes said. "This is gonna be a good start for me. I actually love it here, a lot of nice people that make me want to come here and work every day."

Haynes enjoys the great people he surrounds himself with at work. He said he also loves helping people. 

He said he's learned budgeting skills and considers himself more prepared for his future after joining the program. 

Jennifer Sanders is an instructor for the program. She said she adores the students and is proud of their accomplishments.

"When they come in from a long day's work and they're tired, but it's a good tired because they've done something, and they feel important," Sanders said. "I can't say enough about it, it's wonderful, I love it."

The students get trained on the sites they will work in for three weeks before they start their job. 

The ultimate goal is to make the students competitive candidates for the workforce when they finish the program. 

The students learn interview skills, budgeting skills, and resume building skills to help them be productive workers.

And some of the past students have even gotten hired at Walmart and Kroger.


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