On January, 29, 2018, Advancing Opportunities, Inc. was pleased to present the New Jersey Business and Industry Association with its Champions of Inclusion Award for recognizing the value of a diversified workforce.  Working with one of the agency’s Career Development Specialists, NJBIA provided an internship for a young man studying business and labor relations.

Raul H. Rodriguez, Jr., 21, completed a four-month internship with NJBIA.  When he returned to the Association’s Trenton office to help present the award, he was greeted by more than 20 of his former co-workers.  Soft-spoken and studious, Raul graduated from Mercer County Community College with an Associate’s degree in Business Studies and is currently enrolled in Rutgers University studying Labor Relations.

“Raul proved to be a wonderful part of our team who left a big impression on us all, as you can see by the number of people who came down to see him today,” said NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka. “He is a good worker who is reliable and personable.  He will be a tremendous asset wherever his career takes him next.”

“The benefits of employment go far beyond a paycheck and it is our goal to help individuals who have disabilities participate in the workforce in positions where they are valued and appreciated.” said Advancing Opportunities’ CEO Jack Mudge.  “We developed this award to highlight businesses and organizations that are creating opportunities for individuals with disabilities, giving them the chance to embark on careers that are meaningful and have potential.”

Career Development Specialist Frank Halpin helped Raul land the opportunity and checked in frequently to be sure the internship was going smoothly.  “This partnership was a win-win for everyone involved,” said Halpin. “Raul demonstrated time and time again that he was an asset to the team at NJBIA and the experience helped Raul to expand his skill set and increase his level of self-confidence.”

Raul says he enjoyed working as a part of the team, specifically balancing different ideas and approaches to arrive at a solution or completed project. He lists his strengths as loyalty, compassion, speed, and a willingness and motivation to learn more.  Soft-spoken and studious, Raul graduated from Mercer County Community College with an Associate’s degree in Business Studies and is currently enrolled in Rutgers University studying Labor Relations.

Raul has an appreciation for and a desire to know more about unique styles of management.  He says current favorite management system is that of online shoe retailer Zappos, with what Raul calls a unique “idealistic blend of fun and focused.”  He said that the company recognizes creativity and appreciates all of its employees. His second favorite is Wegmans, which has a sense of personal care and variety.

For more information on Career Development Services, contact info@advopps.org.

Employees of NJBA gathered around agency CEO Jack Mudge and one-time intern Raul Rodriguez

Employees of NJBA gathered around agency CEO Jack Mudge and one-time intern Raul Rodriguez

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  ACME Market Store Director Doug North (left) accepts the Champion of Inclusion Award from Advancing Opportunities’ Director of Career Development Karl Craft and CEO Jack Mudge. Manny Serra (seated) retired from ACME after 17 years of service.Donate Now!
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