Through the Cooperative Education and Internship Program at Mississippi State University (MSU) hundreds of students gain hands-on work experience related to their fields of study each semester. An ongoing goal of ours is to ensure that opportunities are available to meet the needs of all of MSU’s diverse student population. When it became a concern that students with disabilities were underutilizing Career Center services, we began the work of developing programming and services specific to this student population. In 2011 the MSU Career Center became a registered campus recruiting site for the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP). WRP is a recruitment and referral program that connects highly motivated college students with disabilities with federal and private sector employers nationwide through summer internships or permanent jobs.
Since the Cooperative Education and Internship program is rooted in learning, we believe that engaging students with disabilities at this level provides the greatest potential for impact, thus increasing the likelihood that they will continue to use Career Center services as they progress toward graduation. Therefore, we have considered our partnership with The Workforce Recruitment Program a “gateway” opportunity that allows us to:
Hiring agencies have included the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We believe that students returning to campus after summer internships have started to serve as unofficial program ambassadors which has influenced student interest around campus.