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Employer Assistance & Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN): A service of The Viscardi Center.
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Recruiting Interns & Recent Graduates

In the coming years employers will draw approximately 40% of their new college hires from their internship and co-op programs.

Including students with disabilities in these programs can improve recruitment benchmarks and allow for leveraging emerging talent.


Employing interns with disabilities and recruiting permanent employees from this group provide direct benefits that include:

  • Increasing organizational diversity of your company
  • Allowing you to screen potential employees prior to making a full-time commitment
  • Reducing turnover and training costs
  • Improving your company's bottom line by meeting labor demands
  • Increasing brand awareness by reinforcing your organization's commitment to education and workforce development
  • Gaining access to an energetic, enthusiastic and work-ready candidate pool with a fresh perspective
  • Allowing staff to share professional knowledge to enrich, encourage, and support future employees

Interview and Selection Process

The selection and hiring process for interns with disabilities should be virtually the same as for and other intern or full-time hire.

  1. Determine your selection criteria, for example: 
    • Academic performance
    • Demonstrated written or quantitative skills
    • Academic major or specialized skills
    • Computer proficiency
    • Prior work experience
  2. Identify important qualities and skills for the position, for example: 
    • Communication and interpersonal skills
    • Integrity
    • Motivation and a strong work ethic
  3. Recruit candidates:

Supervision of Interns with Disabilities

Interns with disabilities should be treated like any other intern or staff without disabilities and supervisors should be selected to ensure the best possible experience for both parties.

Assigning a supervisor

When assigning a supervisor you should ensure that the person chosen:

  • Will treat the intern professionally and respectfully
  • Has the time, patience, and willingness to work with an intern
  • Has the ability to communicate and relate to a college student

Supervising an Intern

There are several important considerations when supervising interns. Most importantly a supervisor should monitor progress, encourage the intern's growth, and ensure that the employer is benefitting from the intern's time and contribution.

Supervisors should:

  • Conduct regular meetings with the intern
  • Discuss how the internship activities and the intern's goals align
  • Provide guidance on the intern's tasks
  • Provide feedback on the intern's performance and professional development

Making Reasonable Accommodations

Students with disabilities may or may not need a workplace accommodation. If the student intern does ask for an accommodation, you are expected to engage in a discussion to explore what is needed to ensure that assigned tasks may be performed effectively and productively. If you are aware that an intern has a disability and reasonably believe that he or she may need an accommodation, it is appropriate to inquire with the student as to whether they will need one.

Compensating Interns

Compensation for internships varies greatly depending on major, educational level, industry and other factors. Most employers offer some form of compensation for internships to ensure they attract highly skilled applicants with the potential for long-term employment. Ultimately it is entirely up to the company to determine how to compensate interns.

Workforce Recruitment Program

About the Workforce Recruitment Program

The Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities (WRP) is a free resource through which private businesses and federal agencies nationwide can identify qualified temporary and permanent candidates from a variety of professional fields. Applicants are highly motivated postsecondary students and recent graduates eager to prove their abilities in the workforce. 

Through the WRP employers have:

  • Access to candidates across the nation
  • Ability to source candidates who are veterans
  • Job candidates pre-screened through face-to-face interviews
  • Flexibility in hiring for summer internships or permanent positions

Recruiting WRP Students

Through, interested non-federal employers can post permanent and temporary positions; and WRP students can search and apply for these positions using employers’ standard application processes. Only pre-screened WRP students have access to postings on is a collaboration between the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN), the organization that administers the WRP program for non-federal employers, and 

DirectEmployers, a non-profit consortium of global employers.

Employers can post jobs and internships to using 3 methods:

  1. Register to post a job (FREE)
  2. Sign up to have your organization’s jobs automatically indexed and included on (FREE)
  3. Become a DirectEmployers Member

When considering students for internships or permanent positions, employers should conduct the application and interview process according to their usual recruitment, hiring, and onboarding procedures. DirectEmployers and EARN provide the opportunity to match qualified pre-screened candidates with disabilities to jobs in the private sector. However, there is no post-employment support provided to the employer or the employee.

NOTE: Federal agency employers may search for WRP candidates directly via

Other Resources

Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities <>
Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities works with institutes of higher education and employers to increase employment readiness and opportunities for college students and graduates with disabilities. COSD holds an annual conference in November where employers can actively recruit college students with disabilities.

Entry Point<>
ENTRY POINT! is a program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) offering internship opportunities in science, engineering, mathematics, computer science, and some fields of business for students with apparent and non-apparent disabilities. Employers who are interested in recruiting college interns with disabilities should contact Entry Point with their available opportunities.

American Association of People with Disabilities Internships<>
The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) hosts a Summer Internship Program for College Students with Disabilities in Washington, DC. If you are an employer in the DC area who is interested in hiring interns with disabilities, visit this AAPD's webpage to for more information on how to get involved.

Workplace Success Quick Reference Guide <>
The guide describes how to create successful work-based experiences for both employers and youth, particularly youth with disabilities.

Inclusive Internship Programs: A How-to Guide for Employers<>
Public and private employers of all sizes can reference this guide to learn about the benefits associated with facilitating inclusive internship programs as well as the components to consider when designing, implementing, and evaluating these programs.

Page last updated on Tuesday, February 25, 2014