Students with Disabilities

University Career Services provides customized career advice based on the unique needs, circumstances, and strengths of students with disabilities, whether visible, invisible, temporary, or acquired.

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What to Expect in an Appointment at Career Services

You are assured of confidentiality regarding your disability when meeting with University Career Services. Appointments are available in-person or virtually (phone or Zoom). You have the option of selecting the mode of appointment that best fits your needs. When making your appointment, please let our office know if you require any particular accommodation.   

In-person appointments

  • Check-in at the front desk in SUB I Room 3400
  • A staff member will bring you to their office to conduct the meeting

Zoom appointments

  • Instructions and a Zoom link will be provided in the comments section of your appointment in Handshake

Phone appointments

  • You will be asked to provide your phone number and a staff member will call you

University Career Services can provide: 

  • Support in choosing a major or career
  • Guidance and resources on the internship and job search
  • Options related to when, how, or if to disclose your disability 
  • When and how to request accommodation for an interview, internship, or job

During your appointment, you can expect the staff member to ask you questions about your interests, strengths, concerns, and what is most important to you.

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    Job & Internship Search

    Job & Internship Search

    There are several important resources you should be aware of when conducting your search: 

    Hiring programs for individuals with disabilities 

    • lists employers who have active disability hiring programs. 
    • The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) is operated by the U.S. Department of Labor and is designed to connect federal and private sector employers with individuals with disabilities seeking an internship or full-time position. This program is open to current students, both on the undergraduate and graduate level, as well as those who have graduated within the last two years.
    • Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services – this site offers vocational rehabilitation programs and services to assist people with disabilities to prepare for, secure, and retain or regain employment.
    • State Vocational and Rehabilitation Services – this site offers phone and website contact information for the Rehabilitation Services for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and four Territories.

    WRP is administered by the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at Mason. Register with ODS in October of each year to participate in the Workforce Recruitment Program. 

    Virtual internships 

    • Handshake is Mason’s platform for accessing jobs and internships. If transportation is an issue or virtual work is ideal for you, do a keyword search for “remote” in the “Jobs” section of Handshake.  
    • Parker Dewey offers a wide selection of micro internships with employers from across industries. If balancing school and an internship is a concern, these virtual short-term, project-based experiences may be a good option for you

    Best employers for individuals with disabilities 

    • DIVERSEability provides a disability-friendly employer directory 
    • Best Places to Work - 2021 - Disability recognizes organizations for their work in disability and inclusion. The following employers, that recruit at Mason, are highly rated on the Disability Equality Index:
    Accenture  BAE Systems  Booz Allen Hamilton 
    CVS Health  Deloitte  General Dynamics 
    Lockheed Martin  Mitre  Novant Health 
    Target  Chemonics 

    Disclosing Your Disability

    You can disclose your disability at any time and may choose not to at all. Please consider the following:

    Pros to disclosing

    • Determine if the organization has the right people/culture to support your success 
    • Receive reasonable accommodations to perform job functions 
    • Gain equal access to a benefit of employment (e.g., lunchroom) 
    • Establish a positive and open relationship with your supervisor 
    • Provide legal protection against discrimination  
    • Increase confidence and help you interview or work more effectively (because you are not worrying about accidentally disclosing your secret) 

    Cons to disclosing

    • You may be viewed as less capable than others
    • You may be treated differently due to misconceptions about disabilities
    • You cannot take back your disclosure once your disability is known

    What to disclose 

    • General information about your disability
    • Why you are disclosing your disability
    • Types of accommodation that have worked for you in the past
    • Types of accommodation you anticipate needing

    NOTE: Do not indicate, directly or indirectly, that the disability prevents you from doing the essential functions of the job, because, if it does, then you are not legally protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or any disability laws.

    Who to tell

    In addition to Human Resources, consider sharing with your immediate supervisor who will be responsible for evaluating your work performance. Coworkers should know about accommodations only if they are directly involved in providing them. For example, if someone was asked to be a mentor to help you navigate social interactions in the office. There is no reason to tell clients or customers beyond trying to establish a bond with someone with a similar disability. 

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    The need to request accommodation may arise at various times: 

    Before you interview 

    Make sure you understand all of the components of the interview day and determine if you will need any accommodations.  Make your request as early as possible so that the employer can prepare, whether that is a wheelchair-accessible space or sign language interpreter. If the interview process involves a test or assessment, ask for what you will need, such as a private room, the test read aloud or a scribe to write your answers. 

    While considering a job offer

    If you determined during the interview process that you will need certain accommodations to fulfill the job, you can request them as you negotiate the job offer. Explain how you feel confident in your ability to do the work based on your strengths and experience, and how accommodations will help you perform at an even higher level in the organization. Here is an example of someone requesting accommodations when discussing a job offer: 

    “I have high-functioning Autism, which means that I have good attention to detail, am task-oriented and excel in math which are essential to this role as a data analyst. I do have sensory sensitivities to particular sounds and bright lights. If I were to accept your offer, would you be able to assign me a workstation with lots of natural light away from highly trafficked areas and the flexibility to telecommute when there are no mandatory in-person meetings? These accommodations would set me up for success.” 

    After you start the internship/job 

    You may not realize that you need accommodations until you begin working. It is best to request reasonable accommodations when you are in need of one, but before problems with job performance occur. Submit your accommodations through Human Resources or your supervisor (if there is no Human Resource Officer/Department). You can make your initial request in a face-to-face meeting, phone call, or e-mail. There are no official forms for making a request under the ADA. Accommodations should be unique to your disability, your responsibilities, and your work environment.   

    Some samples of workplace accommodations might include:  

    • Advanced notice of meetings
    • Use of a service animal
    • Restructuring job so the most difficult tasks are performed at the time of day the employee has the most mental energy or stamina
    • Providing/designating uninterrupted time for tasks that require significant concentration
    • Flexibility to provide a written response in lieu of a verbal response 

    Resources for accommodations 

    • Consider making an appointment with Career Services to practice requesting an accommodation 
    • The Office of Disability Services supports Mason students with disabilities by coordinating accommodations for practicums, field experiences, internships, student teaching, clinical or other work experiences that may be required by your academic program
    • Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on job accommodations and disability employment issues

    Know your rights  

    Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are not allowed legally to discriminate against either candidates or employees based on their disability. The law states that qualified individuals with disabilities must be given reasonable accommodation for the hiring process and on the job. The U.S. Department of Justice-Civil Rights Division provides guidance on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Additionally, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by Federal agencies, in programs receiving Federal financial assistance, in Federal employment, and in the employment practices of Federal contractors.