Get To Know Crystal Hayes: CIP Long Beach’s Program Director

Our In-Focus blog feature highlights a staff member as a way to learn more about the incredible professionals we have across CIP. For this In-Focus, we hear from Crystal Hayes, Program Director, CIP Long Beach.


We asked Crystal a few questions about her role, her CIP experience, and what she does when she’s not at the Center.


What’s your most memorable CIP experience?

Watching a student pull out her checkbook and put a deposit on her first apartment while her mom sat in awe, and in tears, learning that she had saved up for the occasion. 


What have you most learned in your time at CIP?

I have learned to embrace the “big picture” - to keep purpose as the priority. When the whole team keeps the purpose, vision, and values at the heart of each task and interaction, we feel value and add value, we tackle challenges together and with a positive attitude, and we have more FUN! 


How has CIP helped you grow in your career?

I went from being a serial job-hopper to beginning a career when I first joined CIP as an advisor in 2015. CIP has provided me with the right balance of challenge, opportunity and encouragement, to keep me growing and learning from each experience.


What’s your favorite thing about working at CIP?

It’s simple - the people! The opportunity to really connect with colleagues, students, families, and the community is life-giving and brings me so much energy throughout the day. 


Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

Between the years 2006 - 2010, I worked for Carnival Cruise Lines as a Showband Trombonist.  I made my living playing music, traveling the world, and establishing myself as a table tennis champion!


Is there anything your colleagues don’t know about you that you’d like to share?

One of my colleagues recently asked what I do for self-care -- here are a few!  1) I commemorate significant events and/or changes in my life by changing my hairstyle (as some of you have witnessed over the years!). This gives a boost of confidence and a fresh way to start a new chapter.  2) I schedule an international vacation every three years with a good friend, and 3) I go fishing!  Deep-sea fishing is a fun and exciting way to spend a day on the water.


What do you think are the biggest challenges currently facing young adults with autism and learning differences?

A prevalent challenge that our students face in the midst of a global pandemic often relates to the inability to remain internally and externally motivated for sustained periods of time in order to achieve a goal. This process takes diligence, perseverance, and education around the pattern of behavior change which I fully intend to reinforce utilizing my experience as well as CIP’s continuum of growth.

About College Internship Program

The College Internship Program is a comprehensive transition program for young adults on the Autism Spectrum and with Learning Differences. Our Mission is to inspire independence and expand the foundation on which young adults with Autism, ADHD, and other Learning Differences can build happy and productive lives.