Career Center aims to assist disabled students with jobs

Oct. 27, 2014

Kyle Guthrie

The Career Center has partnered with the Disability Services Office to help students find jobs, an issue that several students have faced.

The offices are currently promoting the Work Recruitment Program, a federal government program with the goal of helping students with disabilities find jobs and internships.

“Employment for students with disabilities is rough, if not impossible,” said disabled student Cynthia Barram, a senior English major and former president of the Disabled Student Union. “When you’re looking at employers, I’ve had several volunteer positions closed to me.”

“Based on the way that Medicaid, and food stamps, and all these other programs work, they limit your options in terms of what you can do,” she continued, “so you have to be able to get a job that can make up for what you are going to lose with these programs.”

Michela Amore, junior English major and former vice-president of DSU, expressed similar concerns when seeking employment as a disabled student.

“I’ve had a lot of difficulty with it,” she said. “I tend to have a little bit of difficulty with the interviewing process, and as a result, I have struggled to find employment, despite the fact that I am looking for it.”

Bev Kratzer, director of the career center, sent out an email on Sept. 30 to encourage enrollment in the program, which creates a database for students so that hiring managers and agencies can reference it.

Disabled students diversify the work program, and hiring them usually helps agencies with tax breaks and incentives. The method is a mutually beneficial way to promote cooperation between the two groups and to help students find jobs.

“A lot of employers look to diversify their employee hiring with students who have disabilities,” Kratzer said. “They also look to diversify their minority status in all different ways, and students with disabilities fulfill part of that.”

The database is updated annually, so students are required to apply to the program every year in order to stay current in the system.

Kratzer said that enrollment in the program could help students deal with the lengthy and often bureaucratic process of getting hired at a government agency.

“If you look at the process for companies such as USA Jobs, it’s very, very long and arduous,” she said. “Sometimes there are opportunities for students who submit a Schedule A document that allows them to bypass a lot of those. In some cases, you can even go into a non-competitive type of mode for hiring.”

Schedule A documents include a list of conditions for companies to meet in order to accommodate a worker with a disability. They include items such as tailored schedules that allow a disabled worker to work for a certain number of hours a day and conditions or tools to assist said person to perform their required duties.

In addition to establishing students in the program, Kratzer also advocates for students with disabilities when it comes to fi nding jobs. She talks to students about civilian employment within the government and how to apply with a Schedule A status.

Even with such difficulties in place, Kratzer wants students to explore the resources available on campus to help them get a job.

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