SINGAPORE - With customers streaming in at peak hour, Mr Ang Guang Joo was getting cold feet.
The teenager had just started his internship as a barista at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, after graduating with a vocational qualification in food hygiene from Delta Senior School, which caters to students with mild intellectual disability and autism.
He found it hard trying to match orders with the right customers and snapped at them at times. That was four years ago.
Mr Ang is now the star barista at Coffee Bean's outlet in Bugis Plus shopping mall. He can easily make a fresh cuppa in under two minutes, no sweat.
The 23-year-old even represented his outlet at his company's barista competition this year, and came in fourth.
His manager, Ms Ai Ne, 30, recalled how he had a difficult start: "He tended to sound confrontational when talking to others and also felt down as he thought others could not understand him."
She worked with him to improve his social and communication skills, and his teachers also dropped by every week to check on his progress. The coffee chain also encouraged him to take up another Workforce Skills Qualifications certificate course in food service in order to improve on other skills.
Mr Ang said the training he received both in school and at work has helped him interact better with people.
For example, his manager and colleagues created opportunities for him to speak up to boost his confidence. "I am more confident now and it shows when I make coffee or make eye contact with customers," said Mr Ang, who now helps mentor new staff.
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