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From intern to employee: Neurodiverse students thriving at aerospace company

Click to play video: 'From intern to employee: Neurodiverse students thriving at aerospace company' From intern to employee: Neurodiverse students thriving at aerospace company
WATCH: Neurodiverse students thriving at aerospace company – Apr 16, 2022

For Zachary Kruse, it started off as a simple cleaning internship.

Aeromotion Canada in Baie-D’Urfe agreed to have him and other students from Summit School, a Montreal school serving students with a range of neurodevelopmental conditions, at their warehouse to clean touchpoints during the pandemic.

But that eventually turned into more as soon as the company realized what else they could do.

“At first, I was cleaning the whole building during COVID, but now I’m in a bigger responsibility,” said Kruse. “I’m cleaning airplane parts.”

Read more: Montreal non-profit group raises funds to support special needs students

Aeromotion is a privately owned company that repairs engines for aircraft carriers.

The company admits that at first, it didn’t think it was a space in which students from Summit could thrive, but they were quickly proven wrong.

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“Just the unknown of what they can and can’t do,” said Randall Lidstone, sales director at Aeromotion. “But they’ve been a tremendous benefit to our company and I’m thrilled with this program.”

Today, three students have internships at Aeromotion — and they do all kinds of tasks, from cleaning parts, to scanning documents and working in shipping and receiving.

Read more: Program for special needs students turns into flourishing Montreal business

One student will even be working at Aeromotion full-time once he graduates from Summit this summer.

Their job coach, Carolyne Johnstone, says work experience like what they’re getting at the aerospace company is invaluable to them.

“When a job coach starts off with a student and they have not ever gone to stage before, you see the wide eye — they’re very nervous,” she said. “But once they have a couple of stages under their belt, you can just see the confidence. It’s like, ‘OK, I can do this, I know I can do this.'”

Aeromotion says it hopes it will serve as an example for other companies, so that more businesses will follow in their footsteps.

Because they say, these students can actually help you, more than you will help them.

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