Brian Stromer Headshot

Quality mentoring relationships have a powerful effect on young people in a variety of situations – personal, academically and professional. Programs like the Disability:IN NextGen Initiatives were created to further those opportunities. This six-month career mentoring strategy brings together employers and college students with disabilities or recent graduates with disabilities in a mutually beneficial way. Through the Disability:IN’s network with over 185 corporate partners, we match at least 120 individuals to business professionals that they wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to meet. The NextGen Initiatives connects students like Bryan Stromer to experts that provide professional growth and development, and social and economic opportunities.

While Bryan believes most major companies recognize the importance of diversity in the workplace, he feels actively investing in programs such as the NextGen Initiatives underscores the commitment to diversity and inclusion. According to Bryan, the program exposes participating organizations to “a group of strong candidates that may be overlooked in the traditional recruitment process.”

Bryan sees the program as a unique initiative that allows companies to transition from talking about hiring more people with disabilities, to actually hiring them. “I believe programs like the NextGen Initiatives will help breakdown the stigmas around disability by showcasing talented candidates with disabilities who are looking to work.”

Bryan understands some disabilities are still heavily stigmatized because of a tendency to primarily focus on the challenges that people with disabilities face. However, he’s also encouraged by changes in attitudes as more and more companies recognize the innovations that disability and universal design can bring. “By actively recruiting, retaining, and promoting individuals with disabilities, [corporations are] not only empowering the company with great new talent, but also empowering individuals with disabilities to use their unique perspective to bring about the next technological innovation.”

For Bryan, that company is Microsoft. Bryan recently joined Microsoft as a Product Marketing Manager, and is excited to be working for a company whose mission is to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” He considers their partnership with the Disability:IN as a prime example of how Microsoft reinforces this mission. He’s also hopeful that more companies will follow Microsoft’s lead, and take an active role in the recruitment of candidates with disabilities.

2021 NextGen Leader Applications open September 1, 2020. Learn more & apply here.

Disability:IN shares NextGen Leader stories. If you are a corporate partner (or potential partner), and would like more information on Disability:IN’s NextGen Leaders, please contact Liz ([email protected]). If you are a young leader with a disability, and would like more information on the NextGen Initiatives, please contact Teresa ([email protected]).