AMES - Internships are a big part of any young person's life. They can be a valuable stepping stone into their full-time careers. At Iowa State University, a relatively new program is making a big impact on its students and interns.
They just have become a natural part of our climate here," said Dr. Linda Impecoven-Lind, a senior lecturer at ISU and the liaison for the Project SEARCH program.
In just a few short months, these interns for Iowa State University have caught the eye of their co-workers.
"I don't feel like I have to wait a long time, or that I really have to do much," said Sarah Brangoccio, ISU Senior: "They are just so eager to learn."
"They come in here shy, they come in here unsure of themselves and to watch them grow as young adults is amazing," said Impecoven-Lind.
Project Search started at the school two years ago. It's given interns like Adele Krier a chance to develop their social skills and stretch themselves.
What makes these interns different---they all have some kind of learning disability---makes their experience so rewarding.
"She's teaching us with technology," said Amber Kirk, an intern. "It's really fun."
"(We're) learning new things to help get a job, after graduation," said Krier.
It offers chance to prepare for a full-time job once the internship is over.
"I really want to work with kids, because I love kids," said Kirk.
"I think the climate of acceptance for young adults with disabilities has made a tremendous impact," said Impecoven-Lind.
Since August, four interns have answered the bell day after day. The success of the program so far has school leaders wanting to expand it even more next fall.
"It's been wonderful," said Brangoccio. "So, they come in and we help do tasks with them, and work on their goals and skillbuilding, but it's so much more than that."
And the skills and the relationships they're forming on the job have lasting impact.
"It's been more than just work for me," said Brangoccio. "It's been friendship and learning on both of our parts."
Project SEARCH internships are available for anyone with a high school diploma or equivalent, between the ages of 18-30. There will be a Project SEARCH information night on Feb. 19 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Lagomarcino Hall, Room 2660 on the campus of Iowa State University.
.For more information, you can contact Tricia Crain at 515-232-9330.
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