The Emerging Leaders Internship Program for College Students with Disabilities (hereafter, EL program), a program of the National Business & Disability Council (NBDC) at The Viscardi Center, is now accepting internship applications for the 2017-recruiting season. The EL program is a highly competitive program that provides top undergraduate and graduate college students with disabilities for internships at private and public sector employers. The qualified interns create a valuable diversity talent pipeline for the companies.
Internships present the opportunity for employers to get a better overall idea of how a candidate can do the job, brings new ideas to the workplace, and helps to diversify the company culture. Internships are often characterized as a “testing” period, or “extended job interview,” and can be the best performance evaluation employers use to gauge new talent for the best overall bottom line accountability.1
It was this idea that helped Barbara Haight, a senior associate at Booz Allen Hamilton in 2001, spearhead the creation of the EL program and open internship opportunities up to students with disabilities. “By using internships effectively, companies can identify people in advance and build a pipeline of future talent,” Haight said. According to Haight, she and her peers who offer internships have found that summer interns are one of the best pools of applicants for future positions.2
The EL program has evolved over the years, including a recent change from being a summer internship program to a year-round one. It attracts rising talent from across the country with varying career interests ranging from accounting and marketing, to engineering and hospitality.
(Editor’s Note: Read our related blog, “Emerging Leaders Internship Program Now Places College Students with Disabilities Throughout the Year”)
Furthermore, bringing on interns with disabilities (and employees with disabilities) reduces costs by increasing retention rates. Numerous studies have shown that people with disabilities want a chance to show employers how well they can do on the job and pay it forward with loyalty and dependability, which equates to lower hiring and training costs, as well as potential diversity-related litigation. Finally, there are the social, corporate and regulatory responsibilities that companies meet through hiring students with disabilities.3
Employers seeking to gain the competitive advantage with their recruitment strategy need to look no further than interns with disabilities. The Emerging Leaders Internship Program for College Students with Disabilities not only offers rising talent an exceptional learning opportunity, but it also yields positive results for many employers. The enrollment for the 2017-recruiting program is now open and interested parties should contact Michael J. McGowan by phone at 516-465-3747 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the EL program, visit https://www.viscardicenter.org/services/nbdc/emerging-leaders/.
Disclaimer: The content of the Emerging Leaders Blog does not serve as an endorsement of any commercial product or service, but rather an outlet to share information and opinions about accessible information and communication technologies.
1 Jenny Xie, J.; (2016); Looksharp Inc.; Interns Into Full-Time Employees; available online at
2 Hastings, R. ( 2008); Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM); Expert: Internships for Students with Disabilities Benefit Companies; available online at https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/global-and-cultural-effectiveness/pages/expertinternshipsstudents.aspx.
3AskEarn; (2016) ; Return on Investment; available online at http://askearn.org/BusinessCase/roi_index.asp.
Corporate Services Specialist
Michael J. McGowan is the Corporate Services Specialist for the National Business & Disability Council (NBDC) at The Viscardi Center. McGowan joined NBDC in 1998, and has continually taken on increased responsibilities since that time to assure that private and public sector employers have the information and technical assistance needed to meet their goals in marketing to, recruiting, hiring, employing, accommodating, retaining, and promoting individuals with disabilities. He also manages the Emerging Leaders Internship Program.
Corporate Services Specialist