Make The Connection

August 30, 2022 | By Cole Hatcher

Sonia Levin ’23 participated in the 2022 Summer on the Cuyahoga program, which coordinates internships in Cleveland to highlight all the region has to offer. Levin worked as a job coach with the Linking Employment, Abilities and Potential (LEAP) program. (Photo Angelo Merendino)

A Career LEAP

Ohio Wesleyan Student Interns as Job Coach, Guides People with Disabilities in the Workplace

Sonia Levin says Cleveland holds a special place in her heart, and she was pleased to be part of the Summer on the Cuyahoga program. (Photo courtesy of Sonia Levin)

Name: Sonia Levin ’23
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Major: Zoology
Minor: Psychology
OWU Connection Experience: Summer internship with Linking Employment, Abilities and Potential (LEAP)

Levin worked as a job coach with Linking Employment, Abilities and Potential (LEAP) in Cleveland, Ohio. The nonprofit organization is committed to being “an agent of positive change, working to advance participation and equality in society for people with disabilities in Northeast Ohio.”

My Job Duties

“My primary job duties are to train and help individuals with disabilities navigate the workplace,” Levin said before her internship ended. “The job site that I am assigned to is at Petco and I have a set of 3-4 students that I am responsible for. Currently, my students are learning how to stock, clean, and understand appropriate work behavior. I work alongside them as they are doing these tasks and I assist them in different ways. Some of the ways include verbal and gestural prompting, giving out reminders, and demonstrating efficient work.”

My Favorite Moment

“My favorite moment has been watching my students improve their new skills throughout their time in the summer youth program that LEAP provides for high school students. Since this is the first job for many of these students, I get to see and be a part of their experience which is something special.”

Lessons Learned

“Some of the lessons I have learned from this experience is just to be kind and compassionate to those who may have a harder time understanding or comprehending something, whether that be a physical or cognitive limitation that a person has.

“I've learned that not everyone has the patience that I may hold, but I think in many instances, patience is what gets you to where you want to be. Working at a nonprofit is not where I thought I would be, but learning what a lot of nonprofits do for the community makes me want to engage more.

“Even if I am not pursuing what I am studying, I am finding new experiences and those new experiences will guide me toward what I may want to do in the future.”

My Cleveland Experience

Levin’s internship is coordinated by the Summer on the Cuyahoga program, which seeks to show promising students from nine U.S. colleges and universities what the Northeast Ohio region has to offer.

“Since I live on the outskirts of Cleveland, Cleveland holds a special place in my heart. I was happy that I would be staying here for the summer, and also meeting new people and visiting new places that I haven't been to yet.”

My Career Connection

“I have had the honor of Mindy Agin (assistant director for internships and externships) helping me out with obtaining this internship. She first helped me by reviewing my resume, and I continued to utilize the Career Connection office to meet with Mindy to work on resume-building, writing a cover letter, and then arranging a mock interview.

“I am very grateful for the opportunities I had with Mindy to go over all of these items because they’re important if anyone wants to apply for a professional job or obtain an internship as I had.”

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan

“I chose to attend Ohio Wesleyan because of a variety of reasons. I wanted something that reminded me of home, had the major that I wanted, and had a sense of community which I can say I have found all after three years at OWU.”

My Plans After Graduation

“My plans after graduation are undecided, but I would like to either work hands-on with animals or continue working and learning more about nonprofits. At OWU, I have been able to dabble in a lot of different courses that may not pertain to my major but through them, I expand my knowledge and can apply it to real life.”