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Disability Mentoring Day 2010 Kicks Off

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

interviewing a candidate

One of the highlights of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is Disability Mentoring Day, which kicks off on the third Wednesday of every October at thousands of companies in the U.S. and beyond.

Congress, with support from the American Association of People with Disabilities, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Social Security Administration, recognizes Disability Mentoring Day to promote career development for people with disabilities. It’s an opportunity for a job seeker or student with a disability to create a foot in the door to the workplace through hands-on career exploration, on-site job shadowing, and ongoing mentoring. Last year, Disability Mentoring Day integrated more than 16,000 students and job seekers in communities in every state.

A job seeker can use the experience to evaluate personal goals, explore possible career paths, and develop lasting mentor relationships. The opportunity may also result in an internship or can function as a first interview on the way to a part-time or full-time employment offer.

Companies and organizations from all industries and sectors participate in Disability Mentoring Day, such as Goldman Sachs, Verizon, the Department of Homeland Security, Bank of America, Pfizer and Liz Claiborne. In a new twist for 2010, Walmart announced the Disability Mentoring Day Green Jobs Initiative to introduce students and jobseekers with disabilities to emerging new careers in the green economy.

Disability Mentoring Day has plenty of advantages for employers. It gives them an opportunity to recruit interns and learn whether someone is a good fit for a job. Tapping a pool of new talent is another benefit to both companies and the overall economy. Less than one in five working-age Americans with disabilities are employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The September 2010 unemployment rate for people without disabilities was 9%, vs. 14.8% people with disabilities.

SunTrust Bank in Tampa participates in Disability Mentoring Day with job-shadowing programs that include a networking breakfast in the company boardroom, a lunch-and-learn Program and an employee Q&A session. Another innovative part of the day is a micro job fair, where each department staffs a table and shares current open job opportunities with the mentees, who use this time to ask questions about the day-to-day tasks and qualifications.

Even if an employer isn’t prepared to hire on the spot, the end result are still positive all around. Job seekers with disabilities get a better understanding of a desired career path, and companies nurture a pipeline of new workers – who now have another notch of experience under their belt.

To participate in Disability Mentoring Day 2010, go to http://www.disabilitymentor.net