Students with Disabilities
How is career planning affected by having a disability?
Make time for career development and planning. Students with disabilities are typically a year to two years behind their peers in relation to progress in career development. Because of their added attention to coursework and other commitments, students with disabilities may feel that they do not have the time to engage in career development activities. This can make a student feel like they have little control over their own career development. It is important that you make time to seek out experiences in college that will help you clarify your career interests.
Build skills now. Understand how disability impacts you across academic and employment settings. Self-advocacy skills, requesting accommodations and being comfortable with your disabilities are important transferable skills for employment that you will learn in college.
Start with your strengths! Look beyond your disability and know your unique strengths, skills and traits so that you can articulate your value to employers.
For additional tips on career planning, disclosure, accommodations, and resources, download our handout for students with disabilities.
- When to disclose: Deciding when to disclose your disability to an employer or potential employer is a personal decision that will likely vary based on your specific disability and what type of accommodations you need. You are not required to disclose your disability or request an accommodation before a job offer is made. Some applicants choose to disclose during the interview process and others wait until after they are offered the job.
- How to disclose: How much information you disclose to your employer is up to you. You are not required to give a specific diagnosis, only that you need an adjustment due to a medical condition or disability. However, keep in mind that if your disability is not obvious, the employer may request that you provide documentation to establish that there is a need for an accommodation as required by the ADA.
- About the law: Individuals with disabilities are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Keep in mind, to be a qualified candidate, you must be able to perform the “essential functions” of the job with or without accommodations.
- Essential Job Functions: Despite disability, employees must be able to perform essential job functions. This can include: meeting deadlines, planning and organizing tasks, and producing a quality product.
- Accommodations: New professionals with disabilities should carefully think through what is needed to function optimally on the job prior to the hiring process.
- Visible Disabilities: Individuals visible disabilities will need to initiate discussions about reasonable accommodations prior to or during the hiring process.
- Invisible Disabilities: Individuals with invisible disabilities have the option to initiate discussions about reasonable accommodations after the hiring process.
- Cost of Accommodations: Most accommodations cost less than $500. Employers can receive tax incentives for accommodation costs.
- Emerging Leaders Internship program - Competitive internship program that places undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities in fulfilling summer internships and provides them with leadership development opportunities
- ENTRY POINT! - A Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), offering internship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities in science, engineering, mathematics, computer science, and some fields of business.
- Job Accommodations Network (JAN) - The Job Accommodation Network is a service provided by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). JAN represents the most comprehensive resource for job accommodations available.
- AAPD Internship program - Each year, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) hosts two Summer Internship Programs for College Students with Disabilities in Washington, DC, providing paid travel to and from DC, paid fully-accessible housing, and living stipends.
- U.S. International Council on Disabilities Youth in Development Internship Program – Internship program in which interns receive career development opportunities, attend congressional hearings, and learn about many government agencies. Interns receive a stipend, Travel expenses, and accessible housing.
- Smithsonian Internship for People with Disabilities - A myriad of opportunities offered at the world’s preeminent museum system. Offers several exciting internships for students and recent graduates with disabilities. Rolling applications.
- Autistic Self Advocacy Network – Freddie Mac Internship Program - Freddie Mac, a leading mortgage finance company, partners with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network to fill paid internship opportunities. To apply, you must be a recent graduate or current student at a higher education institution and you must be an individual on the autism spectrum.
- Experiential Education Initiative Internship Program – Students must have a documented intellectual disability and will work at the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center.
- SHiFT - Companies posting jobs on SHiFT understand the value of a diverse workforce, including employees with disabilities and are actively seeling your skills and abilities
- Our Ability Connect - Resource to help employers and people with disabilities connect
- Getting Hired - Online service for people with disabilities to gather, network, and search through job postings
- National Business & Disability Council - Great online resources for job seekers with disabilities including job and internship postings, local resource directories, webcasts, and more
- Recruit Disability Job Board - Great online resource to search for jobs and post your resume for hiring employers
- Bender Consulting Services - Company that specializes in aligning employers with talented employees with disabilities
- Workplace Diversity - Organization that helps employers find diverse job candidates for inclusive work environments and high value careers