University of Delaware

Workforce recruitment

UD hosts job interview program for students with disabilities


9:15 a.m., Nov. 28, 2012--The number of University of Delaware students participating in the Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities continues to grow.

The referral program, in its second year at UD, connects federal sector employers nationwide with highly motivated postsecondary students and recent graduates with disabilities. 

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It was a day of triumph, cheers and collective relief as more than 160 students from 21 nations participated in the University of Delaware's Doctoral Hooding Convocation held Friday morning on The Green.

Recently, 15 UD students interviewed with a representative from the Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities (WRP).

Support for the program, including the Nov. 15-16 interview sessions, came from the UD Career Services Center and the Office of Disability Support Services.

“This partnership offers tremendous opportunities among UD students for employment with the federal government,” said Matthew Brink, Career Services Center director.

Visiting WRP interviewer Kellie Unsworth credits this departmental partnering and sponsorship for making students with disabilities aware of the possible full-time and summer job opportunities that are available in the federal sector.

“Many students don’t understand how the federal government works, and they often think such jobs are primarily associated with the military,” Unsworth said. “The people at UD did a great job in getting the word out.”

The interviews attracted students with academic interests ranging from engineering and marketing, to psychology, music and hotel and restaurant management.

“I was pleasantly surprised by how prepared the students were,” Unsworth said. “They presented themselves well and were able to talk clearly about their job interests.”

Interviewers volunteer for a weeklong hiatus from their regular government jobs to visit area colleges to assess a student’s qualifications, level of maturity, communication skills and overall readiness to commit.

While candidates do not interview for specific positions with specific agencies, their assessments are added by recruiters to a database made available to federal employers directly and to the private sector through a contractor. 

“The recruiter was very enthusiastic about the UD students being interviewed,” said Barbara Lewis-Kuszyk, coordinator in the Office of Disability Support Services. “It was also suggested that an extra day be added for next year’s interviews.”

Students also expressed satisfaction with the interview experience, said Stephen M. Sciscione, senior associate director at the Career Services Center.

“The government’s intention is to provide for a diverse workforce,” Sciscione said. “The WRP is an especially important program as the federal government strives to provide accommodations in the workplace for students with disabilities.”

Nicholas Gadino, a senior mass communication major, said the interview was a great way to showcase his UD experiences, including working for media relations in UD Athletics, where his chores include play-by-play announcing for varsity volleyball games.

“I would like to work in business management and public relations,” Gadino said. “The interview was a great way to get all of my information into the WRP database for prospective employers to see.” 

Gadino, who also serves as a tutor and teaching assistant in the Department of Communication, said that the process helps the candidate to build confidence and enhance personal presentation skills.  

“Your goal is to impress,” Gadino said. “You learn how to do this and gain experience with each interview.”

Kimberlee Meyer, an Honors Program senior majoring in quantitative biology with minors in biochemistry and biomedical engineering, said that having previously had an WPR interview gave her an idea of what to expect this time around.

“I prepared by reviewing my resume and by giving myself mock interview questions to mentally answer,” Meyer said. “I found that the best way to prepare was just researching my field of interest and looking at the potential places where I could see myself working.” 

Meyer, whose interests include biomedical research with autoimmune diseases and genetic engineering research, said that welcoming WRP recruiters make students feel at ease.

“The person conducting the interview is very friendly and really cares about you and your career goals,” Meyer said. “The WRP has by far been the best experience for me in terms of finding a job and broadening my career scope.” 

Student interviewees also credited the Office of Disability Support Services and the Career Services Center with helping them through the step-by-step process and providing a familiar on campus setting for the interviews.

Thomas Webb, director of the Office of Disability Support Services, said that student interest has grown each year, and that the office and Career Services look forward to the program’s continued development.

“Both of our departments enjoy collaborating resources to assist our students with finding internships and employment opportunities in the federal government,” Webb said. “I must also commend Barbara Lewis-Kuszyk and Stephen Sciscione or putting in a tremendous amount of their time to make this program a success for our students.”  

Article by Jerry Rhodes

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