National Disability Mentoring Day

Scott Bellman, DO-IT staff
Picture of Tressa and Conrad performing surgery on sheep heart.
Scholars Tressa and Conrad perform surgery on a sheep heart during Summer Study '03.

In October, several students with disabilities participated in National Disability Mentoring Day (NDMD), which is a national effort to promote the employment of students and job seekers with disabilities, commemorated each October in conjunction with National Disability Employment Awareness Month. It is hosted by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

During the one-day event, students were matched with workplace mentors according to career interests, enabling mentees to learn more about what a job is like day-to-day and how to prepare for such a career.

Twelve students visited Microsoft™ Corporation to meet with programmers, software testers, technical recruiters, and managers. The Microsoft employees treated the students to lunch and gave them t-shirts and software.

Three students participated at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center. They learned about marine biology and fisheries science and careers in these fields.

The Federal Aviation Administration provided mentors to two students in the areas of information technology and human resource management. Several students also participated in mentoring day at Alaska Airlines for a variety of projects.

At Medtronic Physio-Control, a company that promotes and markets medical devices, four students worked with mentors to learn about industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, software development, and food service management.

Here is what DO-IT Scholar Tressa had to share from her experience:

I had an awesome time at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). I am looking for a career in marine mammal biology and was really excited to learn more about what I would be doing during the workday. I scrubbed rocks for two hours, which wasn't exactly what I was hoping for. Although, I did find out some information that will totally change my future plans.

To be a marine mammal biologist, the best colleges are pretty far away—Alaska, Southern California, Hawaii, and North Carolina, to name a few locations. During a conversation I had with one of the biologists working nearby, she agreed that the best colleges are far away, but the career options nearby are amazing. I was thrilled! I would be able to use my education here and get the dream job I want. Yah!

A job shadow is such a great opportunity because you can get answers to questions that you never thought to ask. Also, this experience can lead you to great connections and maybe even to your career.