College to Career: adapting career services for students on the spectrum

This Fall, Career Services, in collaboration with Student Disability Services, launched a new pilot program, College to Career, which provides specialized career development programming to students with unique needs. Those needs are students on the spectrum who may need specialized instruction in their career development.

Now half-way into the semester, this program is already making great strides, with plans to continue into the spring, and then provide an even more extensive program starting Fall 2016. The agenda for this past fall’s career fair season has been similar to what all students have been focusing on (personal introductions, resumes, career fair prep, and interviews), but each with a twist. After just four weeks together, the College to Career group attended the career fair, handed out their resumes and introduced themselves to the company representatives. For students who may have difficulty with social situations, the Michigan Tech Career Fair can be one of the most challenging situations ever encountered, but they did it. And we could not be prouder.

When we plan for this group, there are no assumptions about what a student should know or should do, rather each topic is approached and presented with a keen sense of the individual needs that are represented in the group. To be on the spectrum may mean there is a need for a different focus, but the needs represented even in a small group can be vastly different. Some students need the opportunity to talk through all of their thinking while others remain silent. There are students who require additional coaching in their mannerisms and gestures while for others it is something they just instinctively know to do. All of this has caused us to rethink our plans, every week. You cannot generalize the teaching methods for this type of group., because what is natural for one may be very unnatural for another.

As we navigate with our group and work to strengthen this new program, we pride ourselves on our awareness, and it is only through this awareness and the goal to learn more about our students that we can offer career preparation that accounts for all students’ needs. Career prep is not a one size fits all, and we are thrilled to be able to offer other sizes.

Want to learn more?
Contacts:  JR Repp jrrepp@mtu.edu or Kirsti Arko karko@mtu.edu


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