Disability:IN provides two career and leadership development programs for college students and recent graduates with disabilities who demonstrate a great deal of talent, leadership, and determination – Mentorship Exchange and Talent Accelerator. Through our signature education initiatives, we aim to help businesses develop enduring leaders for a more disability inclusive workplace. They are NextGen Leaders. Learn more about how the programs have impacted the life and career of one recent program alumna, Taylor Mickelson.

Taylor Mickelson HeadshotTaylor was born Deaf, so when it came time to go to college, she selected Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the world’s only university designed for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. She graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics, and a minor in Chemistry.

Through the university’s Career Center, Taylor learned about Disability:IN and its career development programs. With her impressive application and passion, Taylor was accepted to both the Mentorship Exchange and the Talent Accelerator programs.

The Talent Accelerator, a networking and career readiness academy held in conjunction with the Disability:IN Annual Conference, provided Taylor with the connections necessary to land a job with her dream company – Boeing. According to Taylor, being interviewed at the conference by a Boeing representative was “beyond [her] wildest imagination.” Taylor has had a long-time passion for aviation and is always up for a challenge. This being considered, Taylor even has her pilot’s license!

During the interview, Taylor was surprised by the representative’s interest in not just her skillset, but also who she is as a person; not just someone with a disability. After that, Taylor was convinced Boeing was the place for her and was overjoyed when the aerospace leader offered her a position as an information designer.

Working for a company committed to increasing diversity and inclusion in the workplace allows Taylor to be herself and request the accommodations she needs. The company provides professional interpreters at her request, and state-of-the-art technology that allows her to communicate efficiently. They also educate their employees on disability inclusion, which allows for a friendlier and more educated work environment. Taylor hopes Boeing continues to set an example for others through its pledge to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Taylor describes her experience with the Disability:IN career and leadership development programs as a positive one, filled with hope and excitement. She was exposed to many new people who made her feel welcomed, and was inspired by watching company representatives encourage their employees with disabilities to succeed. She also met several other individuals with disabilities, and was heartened to see they didn’t let their disability prevent them from dreaming.

Throughout this process, Taylor came into contact with various companies aiming to be employers of choice for candidates with disabilities. Her advice to them would be to break down the barriers of communication, and build a strong relationship with the graduates. “Invite people with disabilities into your circle and give them a chance. Take the time to talk to them and get to know them. Give people with disabilities an equal chance to be seen and heard.”

As for other students with disabilities interested in participating in the Disability:IN NextGen Programs, she has this to say: “You will not regret participating! Being part of an incredible community that includes Disability:IN corporate partners, company representatives, and other NextGen Leaders is an enriching experience. Everyone brings their own unique perspective to the table to teach each other about disability inclusion. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to mingle and interact with some of the world’s leaders in disability inclusion and equality.”

With access to the Disability:IN NextGen Leaders Programs more students like Taylor can secure their dream job. Each program is designed to support students and graduates as they navigate the professional world, and tackle challenges unique to people with disabilities in the workforce. Visit DisabilityIN.org for more information about the programs.