Summer internships provide learning experience for students with disabilities
Twenty-three students with disabilities from the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools have received a taste of the world of work this summer through paid internships in partnership with the state Division of Vocational and Rehabilitation Services.
The students worked at such job sites as the Raritan Bay YMCA and Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, E.A.R.T.H. Center in South Brunswick, and the YMCAs of Metuchen, Edison, Woodbridge and South Amboy.
Dr. Tracey Maccia, MCVTS director of Special Education, said the goal was “to provide real-life work experiences where students can apply their academic and technical skills and develop employability skills.”
Maccia and Janice Fishbein, manager of the Middlesex County office of the Division of Vocational and Rehabilitation Services, organized the program.
The students, who worked 10 hours a week for six weeks, learned “to follow instructions of a supervisor, speak respectfully to a supervisor and respond appropriately to a supervisor’s criticism,” Maccia said. Some of the students were provided with job coaches by the state agency to assist with their transition to paid employment.
“Internships are a great way for a student with a disability to begin exploring work-based learning activities such as career awareness, career exploration, and career planning,” Maccia said.
“I enjoyed the teamwork and being able to work with my friends from school,” said a student who interned at the E.A.R.T.H. Center, operated by Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County to provide youth and adults instruction on environmentally sound horticultural practices, as well as nutrition and health education. “I learned to mulch a tree and how to put a rain barrel together.”
MCVTS will continue the collaboration with the state division throughout the school year and into the summer of 2017 through the Pre-Employment Transition Services (PETS) program, Maccia said.
The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools provide special education and related services to approximately 35 percent of its students.