Internships: One Step Closer To Employment in the 21st Century

Targeting skill development relevant to employers in inclusive settings can ensure successful employment outcomes.  VCU ACE–IT in College, an inclusive Transition Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities, considers employer priorities when developing college internships based on student interests and strengths.  Find out what key components are essential and how 21st century workforce readiness competencies drive the learning process that leads to employment.      Improving the employment and postsecondary education and training outcomes for adults with significant disabilities must be the focus of all educational programs.  Understanding the demands of the workforce and the expectations of employers is necessary in order to fully prepare students prior to the job seeking process. Students with significant disabilities need opportunities to acquire and practice relevant skill sets in inclusive, community based settings prior to exiting school.  As a result of this session, participants will be able to identify the workplace readiness skills identified by employers as the necessary skills for the demands of the workforce, as well as see how easily these skills and concepts can be infused into community-based or college internships to increase employment readiness.   Participants will also get a glimpse of an individualized, inclusive postsecondary education transition program for individuals with intellectual disabilities offered through Virginia Commonwealth University. The program’s internship and volunteer program will be highlighted and case studies discussed on the effectiveness and the importance of knowing students strengths, interests and needs while assisting with the internship and job placement process.

Lori Briel, Judy Averill