Today we’d like to introduce you to Keith Bourkney.
Hi Keith, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I moved from Buffalo, New York to Florida to work for my close friend’s marketing company. I stumbled upon Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), which employU is now partnered with, by chance.
When moving into a new office for the marketing company, VR Counselors, who happened to have an office next door, came by to talk to me about signing up as a host business for on-the-job training (OJT’s). We needed employees so I signed our business up as a contractor.
Over the next two years, the marketing company had more than 20 employees from VR. One thing that stood out to me was that they all appreciated the opportunity. In an industry where loyalty is rare and people often ask, “what are you going to do for me?”, it was refreshing to hear people say they were grateful for the chance to prove themselves and ask, “what can I do for you?”
I enjoyed working with VR and its customers. I also had a newly discovered passion for assisting those within the disability community to find meaningful employment.
This is where the idea sparked that would eventually become what employU is today. In June of 2012, while maintaining my position with the marketing company, I received my first referrals from VR. I got to know my customers on a more personal level to help them discover a tailored career path that was right for them. From there, employU was born.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
One of the obstacles and challenges we have faced as an organization is how to prevent the overextension of our resources.
The demand for services is high and the opportunities for growth and expansion are tempting, however, we recognize that it is easy to move too quickly and grow faster than we can sustain as an organization. We know the quality of work and customer service cannot be compromised and is something we must always maintain.
People sign up to work with us because they expect to be treated fairly and achieve results. Having the right people and supports in place takes time and that can result in a difficult balance.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
At employU, we create inclusive workforces for people with disabilities through education, empowerment, and advocacy.
We act as a support system for our customers and are committed to delivering tailored experiences. We are a one-stop-shop for career development and employment solutions that is dedicated to providing the tools and resources necessary to cultivate inclusive workforces throughout our communities.
employU is something I am extremely proud to be a part of. I see the drive and passion our staff has in assisting our clients and I could not be prouder of how our team and organization positively impact jobseekers, businesses, and communities.
We love surprises, fun facts, and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
Something that people may not know about me is that I worked as a carpenter for the first 3 years of my career after college. My father had built his own business and had hopes that I would take it over one day.
After graduating with my bachelor’s degree in business management, I knew I wanted to run a business one day but wasn’t sure what it was going to be. After seeing what my father did for a living firsthand, I truly realized how hard he worked his entire life to provide for our family.
It wasn’t the type of work I wanted to choose for my life, but he instilled in me a work ethic that I would carry on to this day. He taught me to do things the right way, even if it’s more difficult. Treat everyone with respect and always be honest. If you work hard enough you can achieve whatever you want.
These values and beliefs have stuck with me, and I believe leading by example has brought together the amazing people that makeup employU today.
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