Janine’s employment journey before joining Peckham was challenging. Although she held positions at various companies, she struggled to maintain a full-time job. Between the typical obstacles that a deaf person faces in most workplaces and impending motherhood, Janine placed employment on hold for over 14 years. She was far from idle during that time, though: she raised three children as a full-time mom and earned her Associate’s degree from Lansing Community College.
Janine’s husband had been working for Peckham’s 3PL & Fulfillment line of business for a couple of years when he noticed an open position that he thought would align with Janine’s interests and abilities. The role was that of a Team Leader, which fit her desire for a “desk job” which would enable her to leverage her computer skills and fulfill her aspiration of taking on a leadership position.
Securing that initial position proved to be pivotal in Janine’s professional career. Her supervisor recognized both her potential for growth and eagerness to learn, and became a strong source of advocacy and encouragement. This support led Janine to enroll in a four-year program at Ferris State University.
Fast-forward to today, and Janine is only four classes away from a management degree. Along the way, her supervisor’s belief in her abilities, coupled with his mentoring, has played a crucial role in her journey to being promoted to a supervisory role. As she explains, “It is nice to have someone who sees what you are capable of.”
As an organization, Peckham has demonstrated its commitment to supporting Janine’s aspirations. It provided her with access to resources such as a company printer and computer for schoolwork. Janine was even allowed to come in after hours to complete her class assignments and made the most of additional leadership courses offered by Peckham.
Notably, Janine is one of more than half a dozen team members at Peckham’s 3PL & Fulfillment who is deaf or hearing-impaired. Watching her upward mobility path from Team Lead to Supervisor has served as an inspiration to peers facing similar challenges. She says that having people seek out her vocational advice makes her feel good. Janine commonly refers them to her supervisor, a person who excels at seeing beyond a person’s disability and champions them to others within the organization. Janine also encouraged those who ask to continue putting their best effort into their work and to pursue professional development, steps that show others their desire for growth and advancement.
Janine attributes much of her self-determination and confidence to the way her mother raised her. As Janine reflects, “she worked hard to ensure that I was included, but also pushed me out of my comfort zone and made sure I did things she knew I’d be capable of doing.” Today, Janine strives to instill those same principles in her three children, including one who is deaf.
Janine hopes that other organizations will model Peckham’s example in providing opportunities and support for people with hearing impairments and other disabilities. She recognizes the importance of this early “jump start” in one’s career and believes that her years at Peckham have demonstrated to others that she is fully capable of working and excelling in her role. She says that the biggest misconception people have about her is that she lacks communication skills. In reality, given proper accommodations, she communicates effectively and demonstrates additional leadership skills, such as flexibility, self-motivation, and likeability.