Three hours a day, three days a week, and for three weeks, disAbility Connections staff member, Lisa Fleming, partnered with Michigan Works Southeast staff members this summer to host MI Internship Prep for five Jackson area students.
MI Internship Prep is a program designed to help students learn how to succeed in the professional workplace. It focuses on soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, and self-advocacy. The partnership between disAbility Connections and Michigan Works Southeast marks the first time the program has been adapted to support the needs of students with disabilities.
Each day, students practiced workplace etiquette by roleplaying scenarios they might encounter while working or when applying for a job. These fun interactions bonded them together as a team from day one. Throughout the program, they offered each other advice and encouragement as they practiced how to interact with customers, coworkers, and supervisors. Individualized feedback from teachers and peers helped the students to improve, and the support of their new friends helped build their confidence.
In addition to the roleplay scenarios, students engaged in frequent group discussions. They worked to identify personal strengths and life experiences that will help them succeed in their desired careers. A mock interview served as a capstone for the course, allowing students to demonstrate their new skills.
On the final day of the program, students received a stipend from Michigan Works and a certificate of completion. Equally important, they all showed tremendous growth in confidence and came away with new friends.