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Disability Employment Spotlight: TJ Burlingame

Updated: Jan 13

By: TJ Burlingame

My working life began as a 14-year-old who had just gotten out of middle school and was ready to jump feet first into the working world. My first job was as a courtesy clerk at a grocery store, and honestly, it was not all that great. I was only paid minimum wage, and my passion wasn’t bagging groceries for people. However, I was the first in my group of friends to get a job, so I was proud.

I soon grew out of that job and followed my passion for cooking. Currently, I am a 17-year-old nighttime cook and crew member at the 4th Ave Dairy Queen. With the experience I'm getting from this job, I am joining Family, Career and Community Leaders of America and I am going to compete in culinary contests.

So, how does my disability affect this? Well, sometimes I have trouble counting change or I cook more or less than the number of burgers I need. It is not a large impact but it can definitely affect my work. How do I get past it? I work as hard as I can, re-counting everything and making sure I grill burgers to order. Overall, even though my disability affects me, I don't let it control my life and I combat it every way I can.

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