Internship/Job Search for Students with Disabilities
The best time to prepare for your job search is now. It is never to late to practice interviewing skills, build your resume, or research potential employers. First and foremost, you must be comfortable with you and your disability. Having this comfort will allow you to be more at ease during the process and also help put others at ease that may not have a true understanding of your strengths and abilities. The following information will assist you in preparing and partaking in the job search itself.
Writing Your Resume
A resume is a necessity in the job search. When it comes to writing your resume, you do not have to include that you have a disability. However, you may participate in a club or activity that indicates that you are disabled. In this case, you have the option of adding or not adding this experience to your resume. Ultimately, it becomes a personal decision of what is or is not included on your resume. For resources on how to write a resume, visit the Writing Your Resume section of our website at http://www2.binghamton.edu/career-development-center/students/undergraduate/resumes-cover-letters-interviews/writing-your-resume.html.
Reasonable accommodation (link http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/accommodation.html#general) are modifications or adjustments made to the job or working environment that allow a person with disabilities to perform the job duties, without causing undue hardship on the employer. It is your responsibility to determine your needs in regards to reasonable accommodation and to work with the employer in ensuring these needs are met. You can request reasonable accommodation at any time during the interview process or while you are employed.
The ADA requires reasonable accommodation:
- To ensure equal opportunity in the application process
- To enable an employee to perform an essential function of a job
- To allow an employee to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment
If you need reasonable accommodation during the interview, it is your responsibility to address this with the employer. How do you determine if you will need accommodation on the job? The best way is to review the job description and the duties that will be required. Can you fulfill the duties with or without accommodation? Once you have an understanding of the job and the accommodations needed, you may or may not want to disclose your disability to the employer.
Some examples of reasonable accommodation on the job are:
- Allowing modified work equipment
- Allowing modified work schedules
- Job restructuring
- Appropriate adjustment of examinations or training materials
Disclosing Your Disability
The interview process is nerve wracking enough but add in the worry over whether or not to disclose your disability can add undue pressure. The following information may assist you on deciding whether or not to disclose your disability.
- Know Your Rights. It is important you understand your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (link to ADA site). Under ADA, it is illegal for employers to ask you if you have a disability. If you know you will need accommodation on the job, it becomes your responsibility to address these needs with the employer.
- On Your Resume/Application. You are not required to disclose your disability on a resume. If you are asked about disabilities on the application, being that it is illegal to ask this question, you can leave it blank.
- Before the interview. If you have a disability that will require special accommodation during the interview, do not assume that the employer will have prepared for this. If you are able, scope out the location of the interview beforehand – you will be able to determine if the location is wheelchair accessible, if the lighting is bright enough, and answer other questions you may have. However, it may not be possible for you to check things out. In this case, it is important to address your concerns with the employer before the interview takes place. For example, you might ask, “Is the site wheelchair accessible?” or state “You will notice me by my guide dog”. It is your responsibility to ensure that the employer is aware of your needs in order to best accommodate you.
- During the Interview. If you have a visible disability, it may be best to address this in a positive manner with the employer. The employer may not ask a question, because of the illegality of certain types of questions, but nonetheless, they may still have questions. By taking it upon yourself to address the issue, this will allow you to educate the employer regarding your disability and how you will be able to perform the job duties. If you have a hidden disability that will require accommodation, it may be best to disclose this information once a job offer has been made.
- Choosing Not to Disclose. If you have a hidden disability that does not require accommodation, you can choose not to disclose it.
Handling Inappropriate Interview Questions
You may encounter an illegal interview questions, regarding your disability. However, the way that you answer this question is important. If you encounter an illegal question, here are some tips on how to respond.
- Don’t answer the question. You have the option of simply stating, under the ADA, I do not have to answer that question.
- Answer the question. You can answer the question honestly. If you decide to answer the question, focus on your strengths and abilities to perform the job. If you are comfortable with yourself, that will help put the employer at ease.
Job Search Issues for Diverse Students
Getting Hired - Careers and Community for People with Disabilities
Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities
Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities - Video on students finding work
Equal Opportunity Publications
The Riley Guide - Employment Resources for the Disabled
Hire Disabilities Solutions
DisabledPerson.com - Provides an online, targeted recruiting site
HireDeaf.com - Specifically for hearing-impaired job seekers
WorkplaceDiversity - preeminent job search website for Corporate Recruiters
Disability Info – Links to job search sites and information
Disability Job Site
Vocational and Educational Resources for Individuals with Disabilities
Free online text reader for visually impaired job seekers
Federal Workforce Recruitment Program for Summer Internships:
Workers with Disabilities Program
Northeast Career Planning
National Organization on Disability
Visually Impaired Employment
NYS Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped
United States Department of Labor: Office of Disability Employment Policy
The website of the Career Development Center at Binghamton University contains links to other websites as a convenience for its users and is not responsible for the contents of any linked site.