A Former Beneficial Beans Intern Reflects on His Experiences

Connor shares about his time with Beneficial Beans' job training program.

Recent statistics show that, nationally, more than 90 percent of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed. SARRC’s Beneficial Beans program is working on a local level to empower young adults with ASD to combat this statistic and achieve career success by offering employment preparation internships within their Beneficial Beans Café and Beneficial Beans Garden businesses.

Connor, 23, participated in a Beneficial Beans internship in fall 2015 and describes his time as an intern as “the experience of a lifetime.”

He says that he found out about the internship opportunity with Beneficial Beans through his father, Greg, who serves on the SARRC Board of Directors and has been involved for several years in an advisory role.

“My dad thought I should do this [the internship] to help better my skills in life and work,” Connor says.

During his internship, he says that he learned about “career development through hard work and dedication to a specific purpose.” Connor learned skills like time management, workplace expectations and customer service.

He also jokes that he had some fun experiences as well.

“I have one memory of a chicken jumping on my back when I was afraid of them the first couple days,” he recalls with a laugh. “It would not stop trying to score a free ride on the center of my back!”

Rogue chickens aside, Connor notes that he wouldn’t change his internship at all. “My overall internship experience was phenomenal; the managers were very professional,” he says.

After his internship, Connor was hired at Papa John’s Pizza, where he’s worked for nearly a year and a half as a delivery driver. He shares that he is about to be promoted to shift manager.

“The advice I have for anyone is that no matter how hard something may seem or feel, there’s always hope for something greater on the other side,” he says.

When he’s not working, Connor enjoys riding ATVs across the state. But, work and hobbies aside, he has two very special reasons to continue on his path to both life and career success.

“I have a beautiful baby boy and a loving and supportive girlfriend that have pushed me to my maximum potential,” he says. “There's always room to be better than yesterday, so always have hope in yourself and the things that you say and do. It’s hope that makes us who we truly are.”

To learn more about Beneficial Beans, which opens a second cafe in Burton Barr Central Library next week, contact Kate Thoene at 602.218.8223 or kthoene@autismcenter.org.