For the second consecutive summer, the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH), in collaboration with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) offers Summer Transition to Work services from June to September 2012. Sixty Deaf and Hard of Hearing high school and college students currently serve paid internships in a wide variety of public and private employment settings throughout the Commonwealth.
Unemployment and under-employment are drastically more prevalent among people who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Today, when jobs are scarce and competition for them is fierce, Transition to Work offers unique opportunities for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students to explore areas of interest, learn vital job-seeking skills and benefit from a work experience that is strongly supported by weekly meetings with individual job coaches. In addition to specific job skills, students learn to prepare resumes, practice interviewing techniques, fill out time sheets and related paperwork, budget money while picking up nuances of the workplace, e.g. how to dress, appropriate body language, etc. As a result, students become more confident and independent and therefore, are more likely to stay in school and pursue their dream job.
Transition to Work would not be possible without support and collaboration from the many companies, agencies, schools, etc. within Massachusetts that open their doors to welcome Deaf and Hard of Hearing students to the workplace. Some past host employers have included CVS, Children’s Hospital, BU, MBTA, and Senator Hart’s office. Student roles ranged from clerical work, teacher’s aide, graphic arts, and maintenance/landscaping.
The employers/mentors benefit, as well: they have an expanded workforce and a chance to groom future employees. For many, working alongside a Deaf or Hard of Hearing worker is a new – and often mind-opening – experience. Sign language interpreters are provided as needed for the workplace by MCDHH and MRC to make initial communication as comfortable as possible for everyone involved.
I personally would like to congratulate the students and their mentors who welcomed them as summer interns. Participation in these internships is pivotal to the future of the workforce here in Massachusetts. Transition to Work is part of our vision of the Commonwealth becoming a Model Employer; actively seeking to employ Deaf and Hard of Hearing people and people with disabilities who are under-represented in the workforce. Here at MCDHH, we thank our interns for their commitment to learning their jobs and wish them well with future endeavors as they return to the classroom this fall. And, we are sincerely grateful to the employers and mentors who welcomed, guided and advised students throughout the summer.