“Become part of a group that is a great source for networking and launching a spectacular career…”
Disability:IN highlights various young leaders with disabilities in the NextGen Leader Spotlight Series. If you are a corporate partner (or potential partner), and would like more information our Disability:IN’s NextGen Leaders, please contact Liz (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you are a young leader with a disability, and would like more information on the Mentorship Exchange or the Talent Accelerator, please contact Keri (email@example.com).
The number of students with disabilities attending higher education in the United States now represents 6% of the student body. As with any graduate, their professional success will stem from a number of things, including work ethic, opportunity, and, for some, having a mentor to guide them.
Quality mentoring relationships have a powerful effect on young people in a variety of situations – personally, academically and professionally. Initiatives like the Disability:IN Mentorship Exchange were created to further those opportunities. This six-month career mentoring strategy brings together employers with college students with disabilities and recent graduates with disabilities in a mutually beneficial way. Through the Disability:IN’s association with over 130 corporate partners, we match at least 70 individuals to business professionals in their field of study, area of interest, and to whom they would not otherwise have access. The Mentorship Exchange connects students like Paul Trevino to experts that can provide professional growth and development, and social and economic opportunities.
Paul Trevino wasn’t ready for college immediately after high school, so he enlisted in the Air Force instead. After serving three years, Paul returned to his hometown of southern California, where he started taking college classes part-time, and got a job. Paul was balancing his packed schedule while managing his emotional and physical disabilities when a chance meeting with a Veteran Service Officer accelerated his education and career goals. Soon after, Paul was approved for veteran disability benefits, and became a full-time student at California State University Channel Islands, from where he graduated in 2017 with a degree in communications. Through his connections with veteran services, Paul learned about opportunities available to him, including the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) and the Disability:IN Mentorship Exchange.
Paul applied to be a Rising Leader, and was paired with Ron Pettit, Director for Disability Inclusion & ADA Compliance at Royal Caribbean Cruises. The mentor/mentee relationship was a great fit. According to Paul, “Ron’s guidance in both crafting my resume and helping me become comfortable with my disabilities and negotiating workplace accommodations were extremely important in preparing me for job searches.” In fact, Ron’s guidance and Paul’s search were so successful that Paul secured his dream job before completing the mentoring program and graduating college.
Paul has always had an interest in pyrotechnics, so he naturally dreamed of working for the Walt Disney Company and being involved in their spectacular fireworks shows. During his last year at Cal State Channel Island, Paul learned about a job in Disney’s pyrotechnics department, applied, and was hired. Now Paul is looking forward to a long career and advancement with the Disney Parks & Resorts.
Paul’s advice to students with disabilities: apply to the WRP, the Mentorship Exchange, and the Talent Accelerator. “These programs enable college students and student veterans with disabilities to become part of a group that is a great source for networking and launching a spectacular career path.”
The Disability:IN Mentorship Exchange is designed to support students and recent graduates with disabilities as they navigate the professional world and answer unique questions that relate to entering the workforce. Visit usbln.org for more information about Mentorship Exchange, and the Talent Accelerator at the 2018 Disability:IN Conference.
Student Spotlight: Chris Gaines
Chris wants students with disabilities to appreciate disability in the context of intersectionality. As a Black man with a disability, he has had two societal challenges and is proud to share both selves.
Student Spotlight – Danny Tanchez
The Mentorship Exchange Program connects students like Daniel Tanchez to experts that can provide professional growth and development, and social and economic opportunities.
“I believe programs like the Talent Accelerator will help breakdown the stigmas around disability…”
While Bryan believes most major companies recognize the importance of diversity in the workplace, he feels actively investing in programs such as the Talent Accelerator underscores the commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“Hannah loves working with a group of people dedicated to promoting disability rights…”
Hannah recently accepted a position as Program Coordinator for the Disability:IN, where she gets to work on a number of projects. As a NextGen Leader alum, Hannah’s assistance with the NextGen Leaders Initiatives will be invaluable.
“Our company was able to connect with high potential talent like Ally”
Ally’s story is a true win-win, both for her and BAE Systems. She is engaged in company activities, such as BAE Systems' disability employee resource group, which enhance the company’s opportunities to attract top talent who also happen to have disabilities.