Growing up, Patrick was always interested in learning how things work. He grew up around computers, and by high school, he had built himself a computer. Although he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do after graduation, Patrick knew he wanted to continue learning.
In addition to his interest in learning, Patrick has a longstanding passion for self-advocacy. He spent 12 years as a youth leader for the Virginia Department of Education’s “I’m Determined” program, which hosts a yearly summit that draws 500+ attendees with a diverse range of disabilities, ranging from elementary school to college-aged. Youth leaders like Patrick would teach attendees how to advocate for themselves, encouraging them to be active participants in their educational and personal journeys. Patrick knows this program played a major role in his journey to overcome some of the challenges he felt growing up.
After graduating from St. Joseph’s University, where he studied information technology (IT) and philosophy, Patrick decided to take a moment to figure out which direction he wanted his career to go. During this time, he participated in soft skills training with Melwood, a CAI Neurodiverse Solutions partner, as part of their abilIT program. Patrick also earned the CompTIA A+ certification, furthering his interest in pursuing an IT-related career. When determining his next steps, Patrick’s job coach at Melwood referred him to CAI Neurodiverse Solutions. Shortly after, Patrick completed a Talent Discovery Session (TDS) and stood out with his technological skillset. CAI Service Delivery Manager Nicole Martin met Patrick as she was looking to employ associates at the University of Pittsburgh for a new Quality Assurance (QA) team.
“I knew that Patrick would be good for this role,” Nicole says. “He talked to me about how he builds keyboards and his passion for putting stuff together. And I think that was the key for me—that he had the baseline for being really successful at this type of role. He is amazing.”
In his new role as a QA analyst, Patrick tests automation on Salesforce systems and a few web-based systems. His team uses a Salesforce-based automation development tool to create tests, then they run regressions and analyze the tests’ results. They look to see what tests failed, why they failed, and whether the failure was an issue with their test or within the greater system.
“My favorite part about this role is the feeling of finding something that's an issue with the software and being able to say, ‘Hey, I found this issue. Here's how it worked. And here's why it broke.”
This being Patrick’s first role in his professional career, he came into the job with little direct experience working in IT. With the support of his team, he was able to quickly learn and master the skills necessary to excel. Patrick enjoys the family-like team mentality at the University of Pittsburgh and appreciates how frequently he connects with his co-workers virtually. They help him focus, stay on track, and keep him connected as he works from home remotely. His direct manager, CAI Team Lead Sean Kirce, provides consistent support and readily invests in his success—which is something Patrick attributes to his success. Likewise, Patrick’s fast learning and passion for QA work are greatly valued by his peers.
“Patrick's passion and interest in learning his role is amazing. He has excelled and absorbs material like a sponge,” Sean says. “I've been on teams with experienced, creative people that have not made the strides that Patrick has made.”
Patrick is grateful for the opportunity to find a career that truly suits him and to be surrounded by a supportive network of peers. He continues to pursue his passion for learning, still building computers and advancing to building his own keyboards, too. He even used his first paycheck from this role to support building another computer.
“I think this role is a really good fit for me. I enjoy working for both University of Pittsburgh and CAI Neurodiverse Solutions. It’s definitely been fun.”