I never imagined an email about the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s Workforce Recruitment Program from my university’s Office of Disability Services would bring many opportunities and open doors for me in the near future.
My interview was unlike any other I’d had before because it was the first time I’d interviewed with someone who was deaf and had an interpreter; it was the first time I knew the person across the table had a disability just like me. I started receiving phone calls from several government offices in various cities wanting to interview me further. Then, I started packing my things for a summer in Columbus, Ohio with the Department of Defense as a Marketing Intern for the Small Business Programs Office at DLA Land & Maritime. The Department of Defense!
My supervisor, Cindy Nevin, was very supportive, inviting, and eager to ensure I had a fun and rewarding internship for the summer. She made sure to ask if there were any accommodations I needed for my workspace related to my disability. This was the first time I did not have to initiate the dreaded conversation of explaining my disability. I really appreciated that.
Cindy allowed me to shadow a Graphics Designer and Public Relations Specialist just because I expressed interest to her in learning more about those positions. Moreover, I was given the opportunity to produce an article (bottom of page 9 and 13) for the DLA Land & Maritime’s weekly publication, The Columbus Federal Voice, about my office’s upcoming seminars for small businesses.
One of my last days, I attended a luncheon hosted by Commanding General Army Brig. Gen. Thomas Richardson for that summer’s WRP interns.
I also attended a top executive meeting with my supervisor where I was complimented by many of the executives for my work. I received so much recognition for participating in the WRP and for the hard work I did, all in that one day — it was then that I was most thankful and appreciative for the program.
After the summer ended, I was going into my last year of my undergraduate degree and immediately began searching for a place to begin my career with a permanent job. I stayed in communication with my WRP contacts in order to intern for the program once more if it was going to take longer for the full-time job search. Meanwhile, I attended a Bank of America/Merrill Lynch informational recruiting event. Then I applied for the Bank’s Global Markets Operations and Middle Office (GMO&MO) rotational program and was invited to interview for it. The BAML executives were very impressed with my internship experiences (especially at the Department of Defense!). After interviews, I was offered a full-time position with the GMO&MO program at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch in Jacksonville, Florida.
My advice to WRP participants is to take advantage of the program’s opportunity to travel and enjoy “test-driving” your future career during the summer internship. Most importantly, stay in touch with the contacts you make. Those same people will make for very good mentors, references, and maybe even have permanent positions open for you one day. I could not have asked for a better office to intern for, a better supervisor and colleagues to work with, and a better opportunity than what the WRP helped me attain.
Editor’s Note: The author, Rachel Williams is a former WRP intern with the Department of Defense.
Tags: Disability Employment, DOL Working for You, Education, International Year of Youth, Job Training, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), workforce investment, workforce recruitment program, WRP, Youth, Youth employment