Woman smiling in lab coat and goggles.

Disability:IN NextGen Mentorship Exchange Program is a six-month mentoring program where NextGen Leaders, college students, and recent graduates with disabilities in the STEM, Business, and Finance fields are matched with mentors from within Disability:IN Corporate Partner companies.

Merck, in building an inclusive workforce, connects with NextGen Leaders through the Mentorship Exchange Program, at the Disability:IN Annual Conference, and through innovative events such as “Leadership Days”.

Last year, at the Disability:IN Annual Conference, Merck representatives met with Alejandra D., a student attending the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Alejandra identifies with having a major depressive disorder, attention deficit disorder, and dyscalculia.

“Disability-inclusive companies, like Merck, take the opportunity at the conference to interview aspiring professionals to see if we may be a fit for their companies,” said Alejandra. “I interviewed with them and two days later they called me and asked me to join their internship program.” Alejandra’s internship is with Merck Research Labs Analytical R&D.

Having started her internship in June, Alejandra is aiding in vaccine research for the pharmaceutical giant’s Analytical Research and Development Department. A skill most valuable and needed as the world begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, Merck launched its first “Leadership Development Day”, inviting a group of six NextGen Leaders from across the nation to meet Merck’s team at their U.S. Headquarters in Kenilworth, NJ.

While there, the NextGen Leaders toured the bio-labs where lifesaving medications and vaccines were developed and learned about the newest innovations to combat the sale of fake drugs. The NextGen Leaders also spent time with Merck’s Senior Management team to learn about their career journey, roles, and responsibilities.

Grayson S. participated in the Leadership Development Day, hailing from George Washington University’s International Affairs Master’s program with many accolades such as Mandarin Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) fellow, United States National Security Education Program (NSEP) Boren fellow, and Peking University Yenching Scholar. Grayson considered his disability a strength that has gifted him with a different, and valuable, perspective to view the world.

“Myself and a group of five incredible peers from across the nation gathered at Merck’s headquarters in New Jersey and met with scientists to tour the bio-labs where medications and vaccines that have saved countless lives have been/are being invented,” commented Grayson.

As Merck continues to build an inclusive talent pipeline, they open the door of possibilities for NextGen Leaders with disabilities, as students like Grayson visit labs where others like Alejandra will be developing the vaccines of tomorrow.

Merck’s partnership with Disability:IN has continued to grow as does their journey towards advancing disability inclusion. Last year, 2019, they earned a top score of 100 on the Disability Equality Index (DEI). The DEI is the most comprehensive benchmarking tool for disability inclusion.

“We are very proud to have received a top score in the DEI ratings for the second year in a row,” said Celeste Warren, Vice President, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Merck. “With operations in over 140 countries, diversity, and inclusion are critically important to our success. We all have a role to play in the area of hiring, developing, and advancing this highly talented segment of the labor market. While we have done much in the area of disability inclusion, we continually challenge ourselves do more.”

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