Taking Charge

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorUniversity, Master's December 2001

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Spring 2001 Career Services Alumnus in the Spotlight: Michael Pagliaro Prior to experiencing vision loss, Michael Pagliaro earned his livelihood from working as a carpenter, laborer and in construction. Now a customer service representative at The Chase Manhattan Corporation, he looks forward to continued success in his current position and, eventually, to advancing his career at the company.

"I knew that Lighthouse career counselors really push you to get a job,"� Michael recalls, "and they did."� Michael began working at Chase after completing coursework at the Lighthouse Career Center, which operates in conjunction with the New York State Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped. Initially, he sought office skills training, which included an assessment of his computer knowledge. Subsequently, he enrolled in the Lighthouse customer service training program.

"I knew that Lighthouse career counselors really push you to get a job,"� Michael recalls, "and they did."� He and another Lighthouse consumer are now employed with Chase's customer service department in Hicksville, Long Island.

He commutes daily via public transportation from his home in Hollis, Queens.

Kim O'Connor, employment specialist with the Lighthouse in Queens and Long Island, worked with Michael to identify a placement opportunity, and to facilitate the transition to his new career. "Mike has shown great initiative as well as skill in his new work environment,"� she notes. "He really wanted the job, and his performance reflects that."� Michael began working with Chase full-time last fall, and has already received his first raise. He reports that his experiences with the company's management staff, as well as with his colleagues, have been very positive.

Michael's vision loss, caused by diabetic retinopathy, makes it difficult to see details. Adaptive equipment, however, enables him to make the most of his remaining sight. To facilitate his work, Chase provided Michael with a large computer monitor, Zoom Text (large-print software) and a closed-circuit television set. Positive feedback "" on both his performance and product knowledge "" has added to his job satisfaction.

"The company has been very helpful,"� Michael says, "and my coworkers are a great team. We enjoy each other and have very good working relationships."� Michael handles a wide range of customer inquiries on a daily basis, including credit card disputes, product sales, rewards programs and other Chase services. This position requires a great deal of knowledge about Chase offerings, as well as the ability to communicate well. In preparation, Michael memorized a great deal of information, which he effectively shares with customers. Although it takes him somewhat longer to research information due to his vision impairment, he has consistently met "" or exceeded "" the requirements of his position; customers are pleased with the service they receive.

Michael offers some advice to others seeking career services: "If you have to make a drastic career change, give yourself time. Hang in there and be patient while you're learning. Once you've mastered new skills and like what you're doing, you'll know it's all worthwhile."�