Government Comes to Students
During the first week of October, AU’s Disability Support Services hosted three days of interviews for the Workforce Recruitment Program, providing AU students both opportunity and valuable experience. The program focuses on finding students with disabilities at universities across the country and bringing them into the federal workplace through jobs and internships.
This was Terhas Clark’s second time interviewing. As a result of her participation in the WRP last year, she secured an internship with the American Association for People with Disabilities. The School of Public Affairs senior believes the federal program offers students a unique, empowering position.
“Through stigma or lack of awareness, some people automatically think that people with disabilities aren’t capable,” she explains. “This is a way to prove that stereotype to be wrong. It’s a way to have a database of highly qualified, college-educated students ready to work in the federal government.”
Joining the Workforce
Established in 1995 by the Department of Defense, the Department of Labor, and the Office of Disability Employment Policy, the WRP has provided employment opportunities to over 5,500 students across the country. While employment is a critical issue for many people today, it’s consistently been one for those with disabilities.
Recent College of Arts & Sciences graduate Meg Breihan understands the situation all too well, having had no work opportunities before arriving at AU. Now, after three internships secured through the WRP, Breihan sees herself on a road toward public affairs and communications. Most recently interning for the Air Force as a staff writer, she believes the program has given her valuable experience and direction.
“Because of my disabilities, growing up I didn’t babysit or work at Target before I got to college. So, I had no job experience. The workplace was an enigma for me,” she says. “Now I have a greater idea of where I want to be in five years. The first time I was asked that, I was like a deer in headlights. I had no clue.”
Clark has also found inspiration and a potential career path in the program itself.
“My hope is to not only get a position, but be involved some day in recruiting more students to go to college,” she tells. “Changing this fear in people with disabilities that, because they can’t walk or they have depression, they can’t succeed – this is a way that tries to accomplish that.”
While the Workforce Recruitment Program should be at home on any campus, it especially fits at American – a Washington, D.C. university that educates a growing population of students with disabilities.
Both Clark and Breihan are more than happy with their continued experiences through the WRP. As a graduate and soon-to-be graduate, they also credit Disability Support Services for providing constant attention and support.
“The DSS office is willing to do anything, go to any measure to help you succeed. It’s really changed my life,” Clark says.
Her words resonate with Breihan, who’s looking to enter the full-time workforce with the knowledge she’s gained from AU, DSS, and the WRP.
“They will bend over backwards to make sure you have a wonderful experience here at AU,” she says. “We talk about excellence here at AU, and this is it.”
Read more about DSS and what it offers students by clicking here: Disability Support Services.
To learn more about the WRP, click here: Workforce Recruitment Program.