“In this episode, we focus on the Careers Collaborative. This is a joint project between Michigan State University and the Michigan Rehabilitation Services. A short description of the collaborative from the website is below:
"Careers Collaborative was launched in 2014 through private gifts from Michael and Kathy Bosco matching state and federal funds in partnership with Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS). The Collaborative is strengthening leadership with a focus on career transition for students with disabilities. Students gain a full-time on-campus vocational rehabilitation counselor and specialized guidance with new synergies among several campus departments intent on career outcomes. This partnership enhances career readiness by connecting academics with practical experience, deliberative vocational rehabilitation approaches and employer partnership for internships and careers."
For more information, please see the following website:
The individuals who participated in the podcast are:
Shelly Neal: Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Labor and Employment Office
Tanya Adams: Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Labor and Employment Office
Connie Sung: Professor in Counseling, Education Psychology and Special Education, Michigan State University
Michael Hudson, Center Director, Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, Michigan State University
This podcast is the first of a series of podcasts our team is doing on Academia/State partnerships focused on disability employment.
The Abilities, Opportunities and Future of Work Podcast is co-produced by the Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) and the Eli Broad College of Business with the objective of providing an opportunity to showcase best-in-class practices on burning issues related to how workforce with disabilities can be integrated highlighting firms, community organizations, not-for-profits and other state organizations that are doing outstanding work in integrating individuals with disabilities into the workforce and allow them to share their “stories.” The Podcast aims to fill the gap on democratizing best-in-class practices with the broader disability community that can help facilitate employment of individuals with disabilities, This is the first episode of a two-part episode. Please share your thoughts and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a voluntary effort.”
Listen Here: https://on.soundcloud.com/ohuuw
Transcript of AOFOW Podcast Episode 8
- music intro - 0:00
Nacsha Ealy 0:17
Hello, welcome to abilities opportunities in the future of work, a podcast intended to showcase best in class practices on burning issues related to disability and employment. I'm Nacsha Ealy, business relations consultant with the business network division of Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Michigan Department of Labor and economic opportunity. And I'm co-hosting this podcast with Dr. Sriram Narayanan, professor of supply chain management at Michigan State University. Each episode we will be having conversations with employees, employers, firms, community organizations, not for profits, and other state organizations that are doing outstanding work and integrating individuals with disabilities into the workforce and allow them to share their experience and stories. This production is a collaboration between the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University and Michigan Rehabilitation Services [MRS]. For this episode we're joined by Shelley Neal and Tanya Adams of Michigan Rehabilitation Services and Connie Sung and Michael Hudson of Michigan State University. Today to discuss the career collaborative program. Careers collaborative is a program in which students participate with a full time on campus, vocational rehabilitation counselor and specialized guidance to enhance career readiness by connecting academics with practical experience vocational rehabilitation approaches and employer partnership for internships and careers.
- music interlude - 1:54
Connie Sung 2:01
I'm Connie Sung and I'm a faculty member in the College of Education in the rehab counseling program.
Michael Hudson 2:08
Good afternoon. I'm Michael Hudson. I serve as director of the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities here at MSU. And happy to be a part of this careers collaborative.
Shelley Neal 2:18
I am Shelley Neal, I’m the district manager for the Lansing District Office for Michigan Rehabilitation Services for our Clinton, Eaton, Ingham, and Shiawassee County, which is one of the locations where MSU falls and I am an alum of the rehab counseling program at Michigan State.
Tanya Adams 2:41
Hi, so my name is Tanya Adams and I am also an alum of the Rehab Counseling Program at MSU and I am now a Rehabilitation counselor employed by MRS in collaboration with MSU for their Career Collabs partnership.
Dr. Sriram Narayanan 3:01
Well, thank you everybody for for are making it to our podcast. So, maybe we would start off with our first question. Could you describe what career collaborative careers collaborative is? And who does careers collaborative serve?
Connie Sung 3:17
Maybe, I can start first. So I have been involved with careers collaborative since 2013. Actually is a year after I arrived at MSU. So, the initiative was launched officially in 2014, through a private gift from Michael and Kathy Bosco with the matching funds from the state and federal government, in partnership with MRS. So, the purpose of it is really to strengthen the collaboration and leadership with a focus on career transition for college students with disabilities. So, we know MRS has been providing a lot of services across the state, and people, typically we go into the MRS Offices of different branches to receive the services and meeting with the counselors but we don't really have a dedicated counselors serving the MSU students on campus. So, we thought that could be a barrier for students to like go go out of their way to have their way to get the help that they need, it will be really great if we could have a dedicated vocational rehab counselor with expertise and specialization working with the transition age population to provide a different kind of guidance and support. And at the same time collaborating with the different units across campus to provide the services and support that the students need, that will be really helpful. And I believe that was one of the many important factors that really took place and bring this initiatives to full-full fruition. And so, in addition to Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, there are also other departments involved, such as the Career Services Network, and of course, the Rehab Counseling Program that we are very involved with as a student and faculty. And so, it has been a great initiative that has almost eight years, since 2014. So, that's pretty much are what it is. So, I will let other teams members share who do we serve as the part of the Career collaborative.
Tanya Adams 5:52
Thank you Dr. Sung. So, in answering who does Careers collaborative serve? I think our main population in mind is students who benefit from accommodations in the classroom, helping them figure out how to access appropriate accommodations in the workplace and how to transition from the academic environment to cultivating a professional identity, and managing themselves successfully in the workplace. So, in a broad sense, we serve-we are available to serve any student with a disability, whether they are currently receiving accommodations through RCPD, or if they are in a position where they are starting to wonder if they do have any concerns that haven't previously been addressed. We all know that college can be an important time for determining different things different diagnoses so we're available to help students manage and navigate those kinds of tests and those kinds of concerns. So, we obviously help students in that traditional sense but we also are available for are people who may be enrolling at MSU for kind of their second wave of of their career goals. My caseload, it ranges from incoming young people to people who have gone back to MSU for a different kind of education or a different career goal. So, we're available to serve in multiple capacities for the people that currently access other services at MSU.
Dr. Sriram Narayanan 7:52
Shelly, do you have any comments on on on who the collaborative serves from your vantage point?
Shelley Neal 8:00
No, really, I don't. I mean, I think Tanya really covered it well and, you know, and Connie, that there are numerous partners that come together to provide these, and I think the one thing that is good is that we all do work together for the ultimate goal of helping the customers. The one thing that I was thinking when Connie was talking as well, is that those of us that have been a counselor have had college students on our caseload previously and once they're at college, it's really hard to maintain that contact, and you don't know when to call them. And up until just recently we didn't have, you know the last couple of years, we didn't have state cell phones. So, we couldn't reach out and text them or anything like that, at least when I was a counselor. So, you know, having Tanya right on campus is absolutely fantastic. You know, if they are there for a meeting at RCPD they're able to just pop in and see her or, you know, arrange their appointments. So, I think it helps with contact, maintaining that good contact with our customers of having her right there. The Resource Center for People with Disabilities.
Nacsha Ely 9:31
Thank you. Now, I was a counselor for 10 years before I moved into what I do now. And you know, this was not a position to be actually housed on campus that, it might have been done like halfway through my 10 years. But what, being that innovative are their thoughts, and this is for Shelley, of this expanding to other campuses across the state this model so that Students with disabilities specifically those who may need services from MRS can be served?
Shelley Neal 10:11
I don't know how official, I know I've spoken with a couple other district managers who have expressed some interest in starting something like that, or at least starting at this discussion with the college. I will tell you that we are trying to lay some groundwork locally with Lansing Community College and their access department. Try to kind of do the same thing, have somebody there, maybe once a week, or one afternoon a week, and we're thinking really, especially since we have a lot of students that may do their prerequisites at LCC, and then maybe transfer to MSU, you know, that would be a great handoff for them. So, you know, they're familiar, they have that case, and then they can just segue over to Tanya. So, we're trying to do it a little bit here locally at the college, or community college level, but it's pretty innovative. I know, I believe Mike has told me, that there's not many programs like this. So, I don't know where we would be, actually but I know they're starting to lay some groundwork and other districts.
Nacsha Ely 11:31
Thank you. And on that same vein, what Are the overall goals of the career collaborative?
Connie Sung 11:38
I would say since the inception of career careers collaborative, have we as a team really see a lot of news synergies among the different partners across MSU and outside MSU with MRS and other community partners and vendors. And so alot of the goals of careers collaborative is to really enhance the career readiness and like the employment readiness and upward mobility opportunities of our MSU college students, how to help them connect the academics with their practical experience, how to adopt the vocational rehab approaches to help them be successful, and also most and very importantly, the employer partnership that has been established through the Careers Collaborative has been instrumental for the internships and the career developments of the students. So, I will let other team members add, at least, I think those goals are very important to our students for their success after they completed their college degree. And the other goal is to really demonstrate the collaboration and partnership across different entities and one example I can-could share is we have presented this model and some, the research that we have been doing and the findings at various national conferences, and that actually drawed quite a bit attention because it's pretty unique and is not many state has like a dedicated rehab counselor working on a large university campus serving college students to help college students with disabilities to be successful when they move beyond the the higher education.
Nacsha Ely 13:52
I did have one kind of question based off of what Connie said the goals of career collaborative. And to me, Shelley spoke to it but just to kind of reiterate, from the vocational rehabilitation side. What do you, Shelley and Tanya, see as the goals of the of the collaborative?
Shelley Neal 14:14
I'll start and then Tanya can chime in. I mean, to me, you know, our goal was to assist MSU students obtain those needed skills to obtain and maintain quality employment. Hopefully that's using their degree. And I know we assist a lot with internships, which is the way they can get their foot in the door, interviewing skills, communication skills, course placement when they're ready to go as well as a lot of things on disclosure, and how to request accommodations if they're gonna need them in the workplace. Disclosure can always be kind of a sticky thing so a lot of people feel uncomfortable doing that. So, I know Tanya works with them to you know, know when to ask and how to ask. I don't know, Tanya, Do you want to?, Well, and I guess I will also say that the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act has measurable skills gain and credential attainment. And as you can assume, we are able to get those with copies of the diploma diplomas or transcripts. So, that also, that benefits state of Michigan as a whole for that.
Tanya Adams 15:40
Sure, yeah, a lot of good things have been mentioned. I think one of the cool factors that really drew me to have strong interest in this position was was the multiple layers of micro and macro. So, of course, on a micro level, like any other counselors caseload, it's my hope and goal to prepare each student to have access to the resources and build the skills necessary to manage their disability or diagnosis in an employment setting. And then having this platform, having this collaboration also allows for an opportunity to address things on a larger level where we can provide information to the greater population of students of what it means to help facilitate an inclusive work space and environment. And really the opportunity to be involved in discussions with employers and other parties of how to make sure that we are contributing to a progressive and positive and accessible environment for everyone. So, I love that this collaboration allows for progress on multiple fronts and being able to address things and make a difference on multiple levels.
Dr. Sriram Narayanan 17:15
That was great. I do have a follow up question. Connie, to your to your point on involving businesses and how that so many different interfaces here. So, could you maybe go a little bit deeper into the business involvement in the career collaborative, and how that happens? And what are opportunities there that students or businesses can leverage in the career collaborative structure that you have?
Connie Sung 17:51
That's a great question. As I mentioned earlier, besides RCPD, Career Services Network on campus also is a key partner of this careers collaborative. So, they have a very extensive employers network, helping students getting connected with them, getting internship, and employment opportunities. So they are very invested also in students with disabilities. So, as part of the team, they tap into the employer network that they have, let's say we have students who are interested in particular major or industry. They will provide a different information and resources Turner* probably have more examples she could share. But one of the examples I was really impressed was they constantly like organize and coordinate different job fairs for All MSU students across campus, but in order to make sure these job fair particularly during the pandemic, a lot of those job fairs got converted to virtual. So, they wanted to make sure these are not only catered to overall students, college students but also as students with disabilities that we serve so they put together a survey and send it out to ask about what kind of things that Would would help them with their participation and also engagement with the employer, so I think that was really good. So, the other piece is like when they're different employment opportunities besides Sharing with their own network they will also inform our team to make sure our students won't miss those opportunity. And they have different and Tanya, has been very involved with like organizing different workshops, and also like speak speakers series so that students can benefit from like ranging from How do you even disclose disabilities? What kind of accommodation you could request, what kind of process you should go through if you're facing a potential employee asking questions that they're not supposed to how you can professionally answer them in a way that is not offensive, but also is basically standing up for themselves and advocating in a professional way? So, Tanya, do you have anything else? I know you have worked with them a lot in terms of reaching out to employers and all that.
Tanya Adams 20:30
Yes, yeah. I feel very lucky to have been able to work with them and may have been more than willing to hear some different ideas and provide their numerous resources to help make sure that the students that benefit from not only my caseload but the RCPD accommodations that they are able to participate in their events and it's been a real pleasure I was able to serve on one of their panels this past spring In their diversity and inclusion series and That was a really unique opportunity for students to hear other people's perspectives of what transitioning into the workplace looked like for them, kind of tackling those issues with disclosure, Do I decide to share it? How do I share it? How can it be presented? A lot of those things have not been experienced before by most college students, because academic accommodations in an educational setting are very different than workplace. So, having the opportunity to talk through what goes into that kind of decision making and address different concerns about it with with the panelists was really, really helpful. I think and kind of speaks also to the fact that by being in an inclusive workplace, it involves not only preparing individuals for it, but preparing everyone to be actively proactive in managing expectations and addressing how and reconsidering how success can be approached from different angles. So, yeah they've been a fantastic partner.
Shelley Neal 22:24
The other part of MRS we work with people disabilities, but our other partner is business and I know you know Nacsha had referred to, we have a whole division in Michigan Rehab Services called the Business Network And so, we're able to rely on them and get assistance from them regarding Seeing who might be good people to reach out to or who might be a contact that they can help us when looking for internships or possible job things for people as well as they also have occupational therapists on staff so, if we have somebody that maybe, you know, needs an assessment to get a better idea of what types of accommodations they might need, that just is another tool that we have in our toolbox that I think you know, makes this collaboration great with MSU but adding in Michigan Rehab and our other divisions in Michigan Rehab.
Nacsha Ely 23:32
Thank you all for the for the information. So, this will be for everyone, Has there been a memorable story or success you wish to share from the careers collaborative?
Mike Hudson 23:45
Mike Hudson here. I would say you know we started this careers collaborative as an important outreach. I saw the power of Michigan Rehabilitation Services to change lives from an employment perspective. We were doing a great job here on campus Helping students enter college and matriculate through earn great degrees. And I know Our Career Services Department was well connected with employers. But I desired to see a little more depth in the awareness about disability topics. And so, when we started to think about collaborating, I saw this as an opportunity to make MSU and the outcomes for Spartans stronger. And so, we went to work with the agency to identify a way to make a career counselor present here on campus to help connect the academics with the career readiness and the actual career outcomes. So, it's been a really great opportunity been doing it for nearly eight years now. And it started with a private gift and aspiration to have MRS more involved here and to see more of our students benefit from the knowledge and the connections that MRS represented.
Dr. Sriram Narayanan 25:08
That's, that's super useful. Mike, thank you so, much for for that insight. I just want to follow up on Nacsha's question about perhaps a success story about student or multiple students that you be would have that have succeeded through the career collaborators program? Could you point to some examples?
Mike Hudson 25:36
See, I think the success stories for our students are multiple, and they are punctuated during a time of a pandemic. And so, one of the success metrics for me in this program was to really be present for students during changing times. So, prior to pandemic, we had a very much in person experience where students would come in and see somebody here. And we worked on career readiness fairs, developing opportunities for students to hear from successful alumni who were employed in different areas. And ultimately, during pandemic, we had a chance to use the partnership with the College of Education rehabilitation counseling, to do a white paper on the pressures that people with disabilities were facing as they work to matriculate through higher ed and seek employment outcomes. And we use that white paper to kind of take a step back during the pandemic and see where we needed to invest some more energy. And as Tanya joined us post-pandemic here, she has been an outstanding source of energy and reconnection as we work to get people back into an in-person setting and to find employment at a time when employment is really important to so, many businesses around the state. So, as we graduate people, we now have deep connections with Tanya and with Michigan Rehabilitation Services in our own Career Services Network. To make ambitious Spartans ready to connect with these opportunities all over our state, and so, specifically, I remember cases where people were able to follow their academic aspirations and reach connections and places from zoos to military related installations. So, each student being able to apply their education into a real outcome that was facilitated through the collaborative has been one of the success stories that I can recall.
Dr. Sriram Narayanan 27:57
Thank you, Mike, thanks for sharing that insight.
Shelley Neal 28:02
Shelley, I'll just say not from a customer perspective. But really, if you stop and think of the two large bureaucracies of the state of Michigan and Michigan State, and how we've been able to form this collaborative effort, or this partnership and maintain it, and grow it, to me, that's a great success. Because as we know, I mean, all of us work for one of those entities or another. It can be difficult to develop relationships when both entities are so, large and be able to, you know, continue it and grow it. So, I just, to me, I think that's a success. That that I'm grateful for is the manager. And I think a lot of it has to do with, you know, the fit of the counselor. And you know, Tanya's got that energy that just sparks and gets people really involved and excited about being there and working with her so, we're really excited about that.
Mike Hudson 29:15
One of the success stories I'm going to talk about all the time, is when we started to envision a need to have a better, closer working relationship with the rehabilitation services. I had a family an alumni family who came forth at the very same time we were contemplating this and said, "We would like to help students with disabilities in a number of ways, and what are your biggest needs right now." And as we talked about this collaborative, they became excited and made a personal gift to make the collaborative possible. And so, with a private gift, we were able to connect with the state and the federal resources through the collaborative to bring a position to MSU. And so, the role of successful alumni and donors to make initiatives like this possible, is something that I'm going to chalk up as a big success and something I'm pretty pleased with. And the testimony really was that alumni see the value that an education brings, and that they wanted to get back involved in help more students with disabilities see greater outcomes through employment.
Connie Sung 30:33
And I love that Shelley and Mike shared about success stories from like the MRS perspective and also from RCPD. But what I would like to share is more like a student's personal story that I witnessed. How, I witnessed, how the collaborative really helped that student became successful. So, I when it was even beyond Tanya's time I remember at that time, the team really worked hard to explore different opportunities for students who engage with like employers and seminars and we I think at that time they I think at that time, either it was Kate Long, or it was Mallory, who was still the counselor for this position. Found out Blue Cross Blue Shield actually offer a resume building workshop for students with disabilities. And they, we know that that opportunity is not just for students to attend to learn more about how to do resumes, but to meet with people there because they may turn out turn out leading to potential internship opportunity. So, working as a team, since it's pretty far its toes to Detroit area, and many of the students who are interested in participating, they don't have access to transportation to get to the site. And I still remember the whole team were sitting in a meeting trying to figure out how to make this happen. And I really love the synergies and people's problem solving and ended up we have one of the team members getting an MSU vehicle drive the group of students all the way to attend that resume building and interview workshop. So, the students came back with a lot of great things to say about but one of the students were actually approached afterwards, an internship opportunity. And the student was really nervous, How is this gonna work, and they were able to work it out to make that internship to be closer by the MSU in Lansing area. And the counselor provided a lot of support and the students did great. And by the time the student graduated from MSU, he actually got multiple offers. One of them being offered by the same organization wanting him to stay because he did so, well throughout the whole process and getting the support that he needs from the counselor, and other opportunity in other area. And then I witnessed, like, again, the counselor provided a lot of different advice and guidance and counseling and he ended up pick the place that is not a company organization that he's not familiar with and he's far away its near the Detroit area. And everybody is trying to help you figure out okay, there's no way he could commute every day for work. What are we going to do so, he ended up, is willing to take the challenge, same as the counselor and then they were able to work out a place for him to stay that is safe, that is close by, that he could take that job opportunity, and be independent. And that not only is is a big impact on the student, but what happened was because the student was out of state student, so, he didn't even have family support around the area. So, the counselor, the family worked together, The family actually came all the way here to Michigan, and helped him celebrating his graduation and helped me move to near the Detroit area so, that he can start the job. So, I'm sharing this story because I kept seeing the students success be successful is really gratifying and also hearing from the family talking about how proud they are how grateful and appreciative of what we do also is very impactful. And, and initially we we didn't even consider the student we could really help because it's out of state students. And because of the team work everybody is so, invested and dedicated. We just find ways to make it work.
Nacsha Ely 35:20
Thank you so much, Connie, because that is awesome, awesome story is real life. And it is a direct reflection of your team's hard work and trying to make this successful. So, if someone wanted to learn more about or get involved with a career credit collaboratives what should the person do?
Tanya Adams 35:42
I'll just click chime in here before I unfortunately have to get going but if someone is already registered with the RCPD, just talk to your specialists and they will share a link to an online referral system that we've implemented this year. And we've so, far received positive feedback that it's pretty easy to manage and navigate and what it does is it sends the responses straight to me and I can't contact the person using the contact information provided to set up a time to explain in depth what MRS is and getting things started with opening a case. So, that would be one recommendation. The other is going through the RCPDs website. I believe the link should also be accessible from one of the avenues on the site [RCPD Programs]. I'm sorry, I can't speak to specifically which part of the site currently houses that link but I do know that students who are not currently working with the RCPD have found it and reached out to me that way, though. Otherwise, I can just quick provide my email. If you are in the MSU system, you can look up me email@example.com. Otherwise, if you're in the MRS side of things you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- music interlude - 37:20
Dr. Sriram Narayanan 37:28
Hope you enjoyed listening to Shelley Neil and Tanya Adams of Michigan Rehabilitation Services and Connie Sung and Michael Hudson of Michigan State University thank you for joining us. Be sure to subscribe to be alerted to future episodes. We want to take this opportunity to thank many individuals that have helped us kickstart this podcast especially we want to thank our colleagues in Southeast Michigan employee resource group who have been participated in several brainstorming sessions. Offering their advice and helping us plan this project. We also tank individuals at Michigan State University that helped us in reviewing podcast content and questions. Last but not the least, our podcast editor Tyler Grass from Michigan Rehabilitation Services. This is Sriram Narayanan at Michigan State University with my co host Nacsha Ely at Michigan Rehabilitation Services signing off. We want to remind our listeners that this podcast is a commercial free community initiative just to remind you that if you have ideas, thoughts you want to share directly with us on the topic of abilities, opportunities and future of work. Please do consider reaching out.