Emerging Leaders Program: A Promising Practice in Placing College Students with Disabilities in Challenging Internships

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Emerging Leaders is a program that partners with corporate sponsors to provide summer internships for college students with disabilities. Leadership development skills are emphasized in these positions and both students and businesses gain from the experience. Students are placed in a corporate context and are allowed to show their dedication and motivation in the business environment while the employers involved are able to welcome diverse individuals into their workplace.

To qualify to apply for the Emerging Leaders program an applicant must:

  • Self-identify as a person with a qualified disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act as amended.
  • Have completed a minimum of 60 college/university-level credits.
  • Maintain full-time student status for the semester following your internship (graduating seniors immediately continuing on to graduate level study may apply).
  • Maintain at least a 2.5 GPA (some employers require higher).
  • Be either a U.S. citizen or an alien legally authorized to work in the U.S.
  • Make a commitment to attend the annual Leadership Development Conference (LDC), if selected.

Booz Allen Hamilton founded Emerging Leaders in 2001 and recruited many members of the business community to get involved with the program. Today, applicants are placed in well known corporations such as Motorola, Lockheed Martin and Merrill Lynch. The program is currently administered by the National Business and Disability Council. The Emerging Leaders program is a promising practice for teaching others about the abilities of those with disabilities while providing opportunities for students with disabilities to gain real-world work experiences.

If you are interested in becoming an Emerging Leader, information on the application process is available on their website along with the application.

If your company or organization would like to hire an Emerging Leader or learn more about the employer commitments you can visit their website or email the program management team at emerging-leaders@viscardicenter.org.

Last update or review: March 22, 2013