As the conversation around disability employment continues to grow, young adults with disabilities are looking for work and internship experiences to build their resumes before heading into the working world. Having a professional internship experience can increase success on-the-job down the road for any student! How could your company create internship experiences for students with disabilities?
A great place to start is by looking at your local state and county programs for students with disabilities. The vocational rehabilitation office, a state-supported division of services that assists individuals with disabilities who are pursuing meaningful careers, could connect you with the right individuals or employment agencies in your area. Many states have started to encourage case managers and social workers to help young adults with disabilities find internship opportunities before they jump into employment, so now would be the perfect time for your company to start the conversation on a local level! To find your state vocational rehabilitation office, click here.
Could your company consider collaborating with an internship program designed for students with disabilities? There are quite a few prestigious programs out there. One example is The Emerging Leaders Internship Program for College Students with Disabilities, coordinated by the National Business & Disability Council (NBDC) at The Viscardi Center. This program is highly competitive and puts the student and the business through screening to ensure this opportunity is the best fit for both parties. This could be a great program to utilize at your business for several reasons. Not only are you able to have a qualified student collaborate with your organization through the internship, their screening process cuts down on your HR managers time. Many well-known companies utilize this program including Verizon, MetLife, KPMG, JetBlue Airways and more! You can learn more about collaborating with The Emerging Leaders Internship Program online.
The Project on Science, Technology and Disability helps connect students and businesses through internships to improve the entry and advancement of individual with disabilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Their internship program is called Entry Point. Again, they also screen students and businesses to make sure the internship is the best fit. All they ask of employers is to make reasonable accommodations (not sure what that means? Read this previous Blogging4Jobs post) and provide a site coordinator for your company. That’s not a lot of requirements to manage when you’ll be collaborating with a student in your field that has a high GPA! You can learn more about the Entry Point Program online.
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Implementing an internship program for students with disabilities at your company will be a win-win for everyone involved. Not only will the student gain a meaningful employment opportunity before graduation, you’ll gain insights and perspective from a new point of view. Take a few moments to encourage your HR Manager to look at new ways to collaborate with students with disabilities. Partnering with an existing program is easier than you think!