Just recently we took the time to interview Michele Jodock, founder and CEO of Vantage Point Inc, and found out what is behind her vision. In this interview we’ll learn more about what Vantage Point Inc is doing to help the disabled find work in California.
For those who don’t know yet, what service does Vantage Point offer?
Vantage Point Inc is a San Diego based 501c3 non-profit that helps people with disabilities to gain meaningful employment in the community. We are a vendor of the Department of Rehabilitation. Anyone over the age of 18 that has a disability can open a case with the Department of Rehabilitation and get no-cost employment services that include resume development, interview skills, being introduced into our large employer network, and job placement (help securing employment). We have a specialized program that allows each individual to gain modern-day job seeking skills that will stay with them for life.
What was the process to find out that Vantage Point Inc would provide a need in the community?
CEO Michele Jodock is a social worker and had worked for a local non-profit agency for a few years. She placed hundreds of individuals and teens with ranging disabilities (such as autism, Aspergers, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injuries, etc.) into paying jobs in the community while in this position. She loved working with the clients and their families to change lives.
But she found that there were no programs that helped high functioning individuals with disabilities to address their barriers and get them employed and working. She also watched as large amounts of money came into the non-profit that she worked at, yet the funds were getting severely misappropriated, leaving all the employees that actually worked with the clients broke and frustrated. So, she sought to create a cutting-edge curriculum and program that could make a huge impact on a population that often fell into the cracks. In addition, she created an organization that could run lean, and in turn pay the staff higher wages to attract educated and passionate staff that were actually appreciated.
What does being a successful employment agency entail?
At the end of the day, all that matters are that we are getting people jobs that are long-term and relevant to their goals, interests, and experience. Not everyone is ready to work, and that is okay. But our ultimate goal is to give our clients a custom and individualized program to build confidence and secure meaningful employment in an inclusive environment.
What is the most rewarding part of your line of work?
The most rewarding part of our job is getting a phone call or visit from a client and they tell us “I got the job”. There is no better feeling in the world than seeing someone come in frustrated and lost and leave the program months later with a whole new outlook on life. They gained a job, newfound financial independence, and the opportunity to focus on what really matters.
What do you want your audience to know?
We are here to make a social impact and make sure that all businesses are providing inclusive environments for those with disabilities. Our staff and leadership are highly educated, experienced, and trained in job development. We are different than other agencies, because we have a program that is a blend of in-person learning, in-person and virtual weekly meetings with a dedicated job developer, proprietary curriculum, and a web-based app that teaches our clients specific topics based on their needs.
What is your greatest success so far?
Each and every client that secures employment through our program is a life changing success. If I had to pick my favorite, we helped an amazing 25-year-old man with OCD to secure his first “real” job outside of college as a park ranger. This was his dream job, as he was an Environmental Studies major with a passion for the outdoors. My second favorite placement was a man who had no vision at all, and pretty limited skills that would transfer into a work role. But what he lacked in education and experience he made up for in social skills and a wildly positive outlook on life. He ended up being hired by a local government contractor, who was able to make technical accommodations and teach him how to be a machinist. He is now living in an apartment with a roommate, takes public transportation, and most importantly started to do things that normal 25-year olds do like hang out with friends, go on dates, and budget.
What are some of the challenges you faced along the way opening up your nonprofit?
As the sole investor and founder, there was tons of pressure on me. I did not know for sure if I would get approved to be a vendor or if I could create the program I envisioned. If you throw in that I started this organization, and two months later Covid hit, I am just lucky we both survived and thrived. More people need jobs than ever before.
Where do you see Vantage Point Inc in the next five years?
I have pretty lofty goals for Vantage Point Inc because I believe that what we are doing is life changing for so many people. My strategic plan includes growing into Los Angeles, and all major hubs in Southern California by year 2. Then by year 3, we move into Northern California and hopefully into new states. This program is needed all over the country. I want it to reach national level, so that people with disabilities are supported everywhere.
What is some advice you would give to someone looking for a job?
The best advice I give job seekers is to make a killer resume and stay positive. Job seeking can be so disheartening and overwhelming and that is where Vantage Point Inc can help! We provide guidance, focus, and a plan to make their job seeking enjoyable and results oriented. Lastly, it is all about activity and follow through as completing applications online is simply not enough these days. We teach our clients how to follow up with their applications until they secure interviews.
Who is your biggest inspiration for starting Vantage Point Inc ?
I am inspired by any other non-profits that started with a mission and made an impact on their communities. As a business owner, I try to focus on hiring people with disabilities, minorities, and people that are passionate about our mission. I look to other women leaders and CEOs for guidance and leadership skills often.
You can find out more info about Vantage Point on their social media below:
You can also check out their website here: