Career Connections Uses Virtual Visits for Exploration | Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana

Easterseals Arc has reshaped many programs to reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19. The career exploration activities run by the employment services team are no exception.

One innovation is the development of Career Connections, a weekly event that takes Easterseals Arc participants on virtual visits into area businesses via Zoom sessions.

Instead of tour groups visiting businesses in person to find out about the work they do and their job opportunities, one staff member visits a business as students watch through computers or cell phones. Lucas Crager, one of the employment services supervisors, said business visits are scheduled most Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. He estimates that there are 25 to 30 participants in Career Connections.

On one Wednesday, students in the program learned how Paul Davis Restoration helps families and businesses recover from property damage after fires, flooding, animal infestation, vandalism, crime and other troubles. During the Zoom session, Easterseals Arc staff member Suzanne Vertigan interviewed General Manager Shelly Koelper and other Paul Davis employees.

“Paul Davis is a specialty contractor. We do all things having to do with building damage,” Koelper told Career Connections participants. When a home is damaged by a storm, for example, Paul Davis employees go to the home and look through its contents to decide which items can be salvaged. Workers then pack up those items and return them to the Paul Davis facility in Fort Wayne.

Those household items can be damaged in many different ways, from TVs blackened by soot to couches soaked with water used to put out a fire. Every day brings a different mix of cleaning challenges to Paul Davis employees.

“One of the reasons people like working at Paul Davis is that every day is different,” Koelper said.

Responding to a question from one of the Career Connections participants, Koelper said there were several open jobs at Paul Davis, but she is waiting to fill them until she hires the supervisor in that department. She also said that when she is hiring, she looks for people who ask a lot of questions. That’s important in the cleaning room. The work is repetitive, but it’s important to get the cleaning just right. Asking many questions early on helps new employees learn the process.

Vertigan said she knows of seven Easterseals Arc participants who’ve worked at Paul Davis in recent years, although none work there now.

Vertigan said local companies have been very cooperative about opening their doors to Career Connection Zoom sessions this year. In addition to Paul Davis, employers or individuals that have explained a job or several jobs in their operations include:

  • Kelley Chevrolet
  • Courtney’s Salon
  • Jack’s Donuts
  • Putt Putt Fun Center
  • Ramada Plaza by Wyndham
  • Travis Auto Service
  • Umi
  • Fields of Grace Floral Boutique
  • Citywide Delivery
  • Martin Carbaugh
  • ABCinema
  • Schueler + Beckstedt Real Estate Group
  • Luxe Detailing
  • KSE Photography
  • Whiskey and Wine Photography
  • Over Awe’d Hair & Nails
  • Hungry Howie’s
  • Walmart
  • C Store Services

If your business would like to participate in Career Connections, contact Taylor Wright, assistant director of employment services, at or 260.456.4534 ext. 317.