Internship opportunities in higher education are gaining popularity and studies show that participating in an internship is one of the top predictors of future workplace success. Internships provide students with the opportunity to gain a competitive edge and jumpstart their careers. At Transitions, we understand internships for college students with disabilities are especially valuable and provide placement assistance to the young adults participating in our programs.
In this day and age, employers are looking for individuals with more than just a college degree. They are looking for someone with practical work experience, which, for many undergraduate and graduate students, comes from participating in an internship. Internships not onlyprovide students the opportunity to gain “real-world” work experience, but also the ability to explore various fields and industries, cultivate new skills, build a professional network, and explore personal strengths and weaknesses.
Considerations for Students with Disabilities and Internships
There are certain challenges (regarding identifying and participating in internships) that are often unique to students with disabilities. Certain considerations may include:
- Placement assistance – many students with disabilities find it beneficial to participate in workshops or programs that assist with internship planning and placement. Yet some students may require individualized assistance (sometimes requiring a referral to an outside agency) to successfully secure an internship.
- Site selection – the site of a student’s internship is an important consideration. For many students with disabilities, the nature of the work environment can make a huge difference when it comes to successfully completing an internship. An internship site should maximize one’s strengths and accommodate the individual’s learning style and needs.
- Accommodation requests – if a student knows he or she will need certain accommodations at the internship site, it is up to the student to disclose these needs. It can be beneficial for the student to make the accommodation request(s) before the internship begins. It may be important for the student to have clarification regarding whom accommodation requests should be made.
- Self-advocacy – for students with disabilities, it can be pertinent to discuss the importance of self-advocacy at the internship site. Students with disabilities should be able to communicate with the on-site supervisor regarding progress, challenges, needs, etc. It is vital for students with disabilities to use their voice and advocate for themselves.
Internships for college students with disabilities can be essential for shaping career paths and gaining work experience. Thus, it is critical for these students to have adequate preparation and access to individualized supports and resources.
Find out more about our Transitions programs, call us at (518) 775-5384.