Small businesses are known for tapping into the value of interns, and research shows that employers who have internships for people with disabilities are 4.5 times more likely to hire a person with a disability than those who do not. However, many individual small business owners may not have the time to invest in seeking out interns or coordinating an internship program. With this in mind, business associations can serve an important role by taking on the necessary activities to connect their member businesses to interns with disabilities.
Such efforts can be as simple as directing members to recruitment sources such as the Workforce Recruitment Program, a free referral service that connects employers to qualified intern candidates with disabilities. Other business associations choose to partner with local service providers to host job fairs and job matching programs for student interns with disabilities, while others have gone as far as to sponsor their own internship programs, working to place interns with member businesses directly. Regardless of what form they take, such efforts can deliver a unique member benefit, while promoting a culture of disability inclusion in your local community.
Want to Learn More?
Pointing your members to the following resources can help them find and connect with interns with disabilities:
- Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities
- AskEARN.org: Workplace Mentoring Primer
- National Collaborative on Leadership and Disability for Youth Internship Guide
- National Business & Disability Council: Emerging Leaders Summer Internship Program for Students with Disabilities
- Inclusive Internship Programs: A How-To Guide for Employers
Internship programs and job placements for youth with disabilities were running themes in the activities of several consortia participating in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Add Us In program. Examples include the Add Us In consortium in Kansas City, through which business associations partnered with community groups to develop the Urban Career Academy, a soft skills and job preparation curriculum for youth with disabilities. Another consortium in California featured the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce placing interns with disabilities in LGBT-owned businesses up and down the state. And New Jersey’s Business Leadership Network, which is part of the state’s chamber of commerce, created a curriculum to help train and place interns with disabilities in local businesses.