DO-IT's AccessCAREERS project staff developed an easy-to-use document called Preparing for Success with Work-Based Learning Experiences. This "work-based learning menu" was developed to be a useful, non-threatening tool in securing employer support for work-based learning offerings to students with disabilities. During initial meetings with potential partners, the menu is reviewed and left with employers visited by DO-IT staff. By considering the menu options, employers are able to see a variety of ways they can support students with disabilities and then identify the DO-IT activities in which they are willing to be involved.
As reported by employers and observed by DO-IT staff members, one of the reasons this document is an effective employer recruiting tool is that it invites employers to initially become involved in work-based learning activities with a low level of commitment. For example, employers who agreed to meet students for a 30-minute mock interview or a half-day job shadow were more likely to provide opportunities for internships and jobs in the future; they found it helpful to first meet students with disabilities in person to hear about their skills and interests. The success of DO-IT's work-based learning program is documented in published articles, some of which can be linked from DO-IT's web page titled DO-IT: Research to Practice.
Below is an excerpt of text from the work-based learning menu distributed to potential employer partners.
PREPARING FOR SUCCESS THROUGH WORK-BASED LEARNING
Work-related experiences during school are associated with better employment outcomes for students with disabilities. We encourage you and others in your organization to collaborate with AccessCAREERS to meet students and take advantage of one or more of the work experience options listed below.
- Informational Interview
Provide an individual with a disability the chance to engage with your staff members to find out more about your industry and organization.
- Mock Interview
Provide an individual with a disability the chance to practice their interview skills and receive feedback from your organization.
- Job Fair
Take part in a job fair for job seekers with disabilities. Host a table and talk with candidates about their experience and goals.
Offer a presentation about your industry or organization to a group of individuals with disabilities.
- Job Shadow
Invite an individual with a disability to observe one of your employees at work and hear information from that employee about the nature of their job.
Provide a paid or unpaid internship for a student with a disability seeking "real world" experiences in an academic field of interest.
Identify employees with and without disabilities in your organization who would be willing to act as mentors to a less-experienced person with a disability.
- Hire an Individual
Recruit to fill a position with the help of a DO-IT staff member to assure that the position is announced to qualified individuals with disabilities.
As well as the sample text above, the work-based learning menu includes information about who to contact and how to complete and return the menu to DO-IT AccessCareers staff.