The Bosco MSU-MRS Careers Collaborative is a program that supports MSU students with disabilities seeking high-quality internships and employment opportunities, career exploration through labor market analysis, resume development, interview readiness, professional etiquette, and the improvement of academic-life to work-life transitions.
Operating since 2014, the Careers Collaborative is a partnership between the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities (RCPD), The College of Education Rehabilitation Counseling Program, Career Services Network, and Michigan Rehabilitation Services. Thanks to generous donations provided by the Bosco family, these opportunities align cross-unit programming for students with disabilities to enhance career outcomes for students and alumni.
“Over 2,900 people with disabilities study and work at MSU,” says Michael Hudson, RCPD Director. “The RCPD works diligently to understand the dynamics and provide pathways to success. The pandemic has been a struggle for everyone, but our partnerships align networks that meet challenges with possibility.”
Informed by an annual student survey, the Careers Collaborative has used student-shared experiences to guide new programmatic efforts. With insightful research, the Careers Collaborative COVID Whitepaper, written by lead author Dr. Connie Sung from MSU College of Education Rehabilitation Counseling, identifies challenges faced by students, particularly students with disabilities, in the current learning and service environments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While COVID has affected all of us, its impact on students with disabilities is particularly harsh. They not only face issues that typical students face during these difficult times – job loss, social isolation, financial concerns, they also face heightened stressors and other medical/health concerns that are unique to them. These issues are further exacerbated by limited access to necessary services and supports,” says Sung. “Doing this white paper in collaboration with RCPD Ability Specialists is extremely critical and timely to urgently call for actions in providing accessible resources and developing better support systems to address these gaps for our students with disabilities.”
Lindsay Hill, co-author and RCPD Ability Access Specialist, said: “The outcomes of this white paper were instrumental in helping us understand our students needs during such an uncertain time and provide opportunities to help. One of those needs that jumped out to us was the desire for connection with other students. We quickly organized community groups, an opportunity for students with disabilities to connect and support one another and talk about the issues affecting their daily lives.”
The close partnership between the RCPD and the Career Services Network is enhanced by a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor provided by the state of Michigan, assisting students in securing gainful employment and independence. Looking to renew further partnership opportunities with the Careers Collaborative, the RCPD will continue efforts that maximize solutions toward disability employment.
“Although no student has been spared direct impact of the pandemic, we know there are several student populations, like those served by RCPD, which have experienced a disproportionate amount of adversities and hardships,” says Jeffrey Beavers, Career Services Director. “[We are] continuing to focus on improving user experiences and accessibility, identifying new employer partners, and in adapting our service models to help close the gaps that have created disadvantages among students with physical, psychiatric, developmental, or sensory disabilities.”