MetLife Recruits Interns with Disabilities through Community Partnership
This case study describes how MetLife annually recruits student interns with disabilities through a partnership with the National Business and Disability Council’s Emerging Leadership Program. MetLife’s internships are designed to provide all student interns, including those with disabilities, with a meaningful work experience while growing the company’s talent pipeline. MetLife maximizes the success of its internships by providing training for supervisors as well as formal and informal professional development opportunities for interns.
Student internships are a significant part of MetLife’s Global Talent Management program. MetLife has various internship programs and opportunities, including one that is made possible through a partnership with the National Business and Disability Council’s (NBDC) Emerging Leaders program (http://www.emerging-leaders.com/index.htm). During this four year partnership, MetLife has recruited qualified undergraduate students with disabilities into its internships and a few interns have been hired for permanent positions with MetLife.
Each year, hiring managers and supervisors are encouraged to request a summer intern by submitting an internship position description. The Student Internships Coordinator shares internship descriptions with the NBDC Emerging Leaders program staff to identify qualified candidates. After thorough screening, NBDC sends resumes to MetLife and the hiring managers conduct interviews with a few students.
Once a student is selected for an internship, they are required to participate in an onboarding process managed by Human Resources. If the student requests an accommodation, a discussion between the student and supervisor takes place in order to better understand the request and to determine the appropriate resolution. In many instances, MetLife finds the accommodations that student interns request, if any, are a minimal cost. The most common accommodations involve flexible arrangements such as the supervisor giving approval for time off for appointments or the option to work from home on certain days. Oftentimes, these requests are similar to what any employee with or without a disability might request.
MetLife ensures that all student interns have a meaningful experience by providing training and guidelines to supervisors. The company embraces the philosophy that student internships are a win-win for the students and the company. Student internships provide students the opportunity to gain work experience and the chance for MetLife to expose potential job candidates to the company, the industry, and a corporate environment. In turn, MetLife also gains access to a new pipeline of talent.
All student interns are provided with an orientation to the company as well as regular lunch-and-learn sessions on networking and professional development. In some instances, supervisors may arrange separate group orientations and professional development meetings for their interns such as meetings with senior leaders. Interns who are a part of the NBDC Emerging Leaders programs also participate in additional training and professional development opportunities facilitated by NBDC. Interns are also sometimes matched with mentors through MetLife’s Employee Resource Groups.
Informal mentor relationships, between students and supervisors, are generally established during each internship. In one example, a supervisor mentored an intern in the Emerging Leaders program on how to network in the workplace. Because the intern was more reserved and shy, the supervisor encouraged him to set specific goals around meeting and building relationships, with as many people as possible, throughout his internship. As a result, the intern scheduled meetings and spoke with over 80 employees throughout the company by the time his internship ended. The supervisor had regular conversations with the intern about who he was meeting and what he was learning. Through his networking efforts, the student has already lined up a future internship in another department.
MetLife’s partnership with the NBDC and the Emerging Leaders Program has created an inclusive environment with respect to people with disabilities. MetLife also credits its annual participation in National Disability Mentoring Day (http://www.aapd.com/what-we-do/employment/disability-mentoring-day/) with increasing disability awareness among its employees. Each October, MetLife hosts students and individuals with disabilities for a day of job shadowing and mentoring. During this event, NBDC provides training on disability etiquette to MetLife employees. Participation in this annual event helps MetLife to continually build a culture of inclusion and respect for diversity.