In the coming years employers will draw approximately 40% of their new college hires from their internship and co-op programs.
Including students with disabilities in these programs can improve recruitment benchmarks and allow for leveraging emerging talent.
Employing interns with disabilities and recruiting permanent employees from this group provide direct benefits that include:
- Increasing organizational diversity of your company
- Allowing you to screen potential employees prior to making a full-time commitment
- Reducing turnover and training costs
- Improving your company's bottom line by meeting labor demands
- Increasing brand awareness by reinforcing your organization's commitment to education and workforce development
- Gaining access to an energetic, enthusiastic and work-ready candidate pool with a fresh perspective
- Allowing staff to share professional knowledge to enrich, encourage, and support future employees
Interview and Selection Process
The selection and hiring process for interns with disabilities should be virtually the same as for and other intern or full-time hire.
- Determine your selection criteria, for example:
- Academic performance
- Demonstrated written or quantitative skills
- Academic major or specialized skills
- Computer proficiency
- Prior work experience
- Identify important qualities and skills for the position, for example:
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Motivation and a strong work ethic
- Recruit candidates:
- Attend campus hiring events.
- Reach out to formal internship programs for students with disabilities, such as the Workforce Recruitment Program,Emerging Leaders and Entry Point.
- Contact both the career services and disability student services offices at local colleges and universities to advertise your opportunities.
Supervision of Interns with Disabilities
Interns with disabilities should be treated like any other intern or staff without disabilities and supervisors should be selected to ensure the best possible experience for both parties.
Assigning a supervisor
When assigning a supervisor you should ensure that the person chosen:
- Will treat the intern professionally and respectfully
- Has the time, patience, and willingness to work with an intern
- Has the ability to communicate and relate to a college student
Supervising an Intern
There are several important considerations when supervising interns. Most importantly a supervisor should monitor progress, encourage the intern's growth, and ensure that the employer is benefitting from the intern's time and contribution.
- Conduct regular meetings with the intern
- Discuss how the internship activities and the intern's goals align
- Provide guidance on the intern's tasks
- Provide feedback on the intern's performance and professional development
Making Reasonable Accommodations
Students with disabilities may or may not need a workplace accommodation. If the student intern does ask for an accommodation, you are expected to engage in a discussion to explore what is needed to ensure that assigned tasks may be performed effectively and productively. If you are aware that an intern has a disability and reasonably believe that he or she may need an accommodation, it is appropriate to inquire with the student as to whether they will need one.
Compensation for internships varies greatly depending on major, educational level, industry and other factors. Most employers offer some form of compensation for internships to ensure they attract highly skilled applicants with the potential for long-term employment. Ultimately it is entirely up to the company to determine how to compensate interns.
Workforce Recruitment Program
What is the Workforce Recruitment Program?
The Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities (WRP) is a free resource through which private businesses and federal agencies nationwide can identify qualified temporary and permanent candidates from a variety of professional fields. Applicants are highly motivated postsecondary students and recent graduates eager to prove their abilities in the workforce. (Go to: WRP Request Form)
What Does the Program Offer Employers?
- Access to candidates across the nation, by state or job category
- Ability to source candidates who are veterans
- Job candidates pre-screened through face-to-face interviews
- Information about each applicant's qualifications
- Flexibility in hiring for summer internships or permanent positions
- 3 Ways to Include Students with Disabilities in Your Summer Internship Program: PDF Version
How Does the Program Work?
Annually during the Fall semester, trained federal recruiters conduct personal interviews with interested students and recent graduates on over 200 college and university campuses. From these interviews, a database is compiled containing applications and profiles on more than 2,200 college students and recent graduates seeking temporary or permanent positions.
Federal agency employers may access this database directly at www.WRP.gov.
All other employers can take advantage of this program through AskEARN.org. Employers may submit position descriptions online and should expect to receive matched candidates for consideration within five business days. WRP Request Form
Employers are encouraged to conduct independent interviews with students who are identified as potential job candidates, and are under no obligation to hire.
Emerging Leaders <http://www.emerging-leaders.com>
Emerging Leaders is a highly competitive program that places college students with disabilities in fulfilling summer internships and provides them with leadership development opportunities. Emerging Leaders partners with businesses to help them find outstanding talent while also considering diversity and inclusion in their hiring practices.
Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities <http://www.cosdonline.org>
Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities works with institutes of higher education and employers to increase employment readiness and opportunities for college students and graduates with disabilities. COSD holds an annual conference in November where employers can actively recruit college students with disabilities.
ENTRY POINT! is a program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) offering internship opportunities in science, engineering, mathematics, computer science, and some fields of business for students with apparent and non-apparent disabilities. Employers who are interested in recruiting college interns with disabilities should contact Entry Point with their available opportunities.
American Association of People with Disabilities Internships<http://www.aapd.com/what-we-do/employment/internship-program/>
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) hosts a Summer Internship Program for College Students with Disabilities in Washington, DC. If you are an employer in the DC area who is interested in hiring interns with disabilities, visit this AAPD's webpage to for more information on how to get involved.
Workplace Success Quick Reference Guide <http://www.ncwd-youth.info/quick-reference-guide/working-with-employers>
The guide describes how to create successful work-based experiences for both employers and youth, particularly youth with disabilities.