Preparing Students for the Marketplace
Gallaudet University Career Center
- Gallaudet University
  July 2010

Gallaudet University was founded in 1864 by an Act of Congress to serve deaf and hard of hearing students; its charter was signed by President Abraham Lincoln. Gallaudet was also one of the first universities serving students with disabilities to receive funding from the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation. Since 1981, the Foundation has continued to partner with Gallaudet in providing assistance and opportunity for students who require specialized educational programs in order to earn their degrees. The Newcombe Foundation recognizes the importance of Gallaudet's Internship Program and is pleased to continue its support of this work.

The following is an overview of Gallaudet University's Career Center and Internship Program from Stephanie Walden, Career Resource Specialist.

Mission Statement: The Career Center at Gallaudet University assists students in reaching their career goals by integrating liberal education with experience in the marketplace. We educate and empower students to practice lifelong career development skills, make effective career decisions, and achieve professional success.

Gallaudet University is the world's leader in liberal education and career development for deaf and hard of hearing undergraduate students. As a way of connecting students with the world that awaits them after graduation from Gallaudet, the Career Center provides career development opportunities through its Internship Program, which has been in existence for more than twenty-five years. Through this program, students obtain internship placements by receiving resumé guidance, having meetings with career consultants and faculty sponsors, using the Internet and Career Library resources, and attending evaluation meetings and workshops that prepare them for the challenges they will face in the world of work.

The Internship Program enables students to be more competitive in today's job market, allows them to explore career options, gives them the opportunity to preview and test different occupational fields, creates a network of contacts, and aids students in learning professional etiquette and ethics.

Gallaudet University's Career Center has been able to stay true to its mission statement by offering stipend awards, many funded through grants from the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation, to students who have been given internship opportunities with a wide variety of employers. Students participate in internships in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, across the United States, and internationally. Without these stipends, many students would be unable to afford the expenses, usually related to transportation, housing and meals, that they incur while fulfilling their internships.

The Career Center is staffed by five career consultants assigned to specific major groups of students to assist them in their internship preparation. Because Gallaudet students are deaf and hard of hearing and many of the internship sites are in hearing environments, the most difficult challenge for the career consultants lies in the area of communication. Both the student and the employer must be educated about issues and difficulties that may arise while working together. The Career Center provides a deaf awareness training workshop for employers and employees entitled "Working Together: Deaf and Hearing Employees," which helps develop and strengthen the relationship between deaf and hearing individuals in the workplace. It is an interactive workshop that can be tailored to meet an organization's, employee's and/or intern's needs. This workshop gives individuals the opportunity to:

  • Learn about realistic attitudes toward and expectations of a deaf employee
  • Develop communication strategies
  • Develop a better understanding of deaf cultures and norms
  • Understand what kind of accommodation is needed for an intern or employee

This year, Gallaudet University students completed internships with private businesses, deaf services organizations, the federal government, and public, private, and charter schools. These internship sites included:

  • DeafReach – Washington, D.C.
  • The Library of Congress – Washington, D.C.
  • Sidwell Friends School – Bethesda, Md.
  • Fairfax County Public Schools – Fairfax, Va.
  • Carl Sandburg Learning Center – Rockville, Md.
  • Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center – Washington, D.C.
  • E.L. Haynes Public Charter School – Washington, D.C.
  • Results, The Gym – Washington, D.C.
  • The Hill Preschool – Washington, D.C.
  • Two Rivers Public Charter Elementary School – Washington, D.C.
  • Family Services Foundation – Landover Hills, Md.
  • U.S. Department of Transportation – Washington, D.C.
  • MOČ Productions/BAB Inc. – Washington, D.C.
  • Kennedy Krieger Institute – Therapeutic Foster Care – Washington, D.C.
  • South African National Olympic Committee – Johannesburg, South Africa

Students were able to apply their skills and academic experience from such fields as communication, art, theater and drama, education, sociology, family and child studies, social work, physical education and recreation, interpretation, and psychology to a real employment situation. The internship experience allowed them insights on the challenges and the rewards that would come through working in their field of expertise.

Kayla Castro – interned as the first deaf trainer/floor staff at Results, The Gym in Washington, D.C. Her enthusiasm for the job and her ability to follow through on tasks made it possible for the gym to be more willing to allow other deaf individuals to do internships there. Kayla was also honored as one of the Career Center's "Hall of Fame" awardees for her outstanding contribution to the gym.

Erika Ruth – interned at the Library of Congress, where she learned how to work with ancient maps and how to catalog the information from these maps into the computer. She also cataloged information in their computers and labeled files with bar codes for the library. She found working with old maps, especially some from Nazi Germany, a fascinating experience. She learned the history of the Nazis from the beginning to the end of World War II, and was able to see how the maps of Germany changed over the years.

Aaron Halleck, Caroline Suggs, Amelia Hensley – along with other Gallaudet students, interned with MO2 Productions/BAB Inc. They became more familiar with the theater and developed skills in interpretation and translation. They also had the opportunity to participate in theater presentations at the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Landsburgh Theatre in Washington, D.C., and perform in a production entitled UncontentED LOVE at the DC Capitol Fringe Festival.

Gallaudet University recognizes that internships are an integral part of students' success. Students are encouraged to build on their experiences and skills, which in turn, makes them more marketable once they graduate. Employers, also, learn to accept and respect deaf and hard of hearing workers as productive members of their team of employees. The Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation has been supportive of Gallaudet's Student Internship Program since 1981. Without its continued support, many students would be limited in their participation in these internships that provide them such valuable insights into their future career endeavors.

For further information about Gallaudet's Internship Program and the Career Center, please visit the web site.

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