Fostering inclusion through internships

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month. Join us as we highlight PYD’s efforts in creating a more inclusive workplace.

PYD’s goal of creating a world where young people with disabilities lead self-determined lives filled with pride and purpose centers around transformative programming for youth and increasing the inclusivity of workplaces, organizations, and communities. Investing in disability inclusion in the workforce benefits everyone. Employers who create workspaces that value different abilities and perspectives achieved significant returns to both their top line revenue and their net income compared to industry peers.¹ In addition, inclusive work environments can lead to higher job satisfaction and retention, higher productivity, and increased morale – for all employees.² ³

And yet, The labor force participation rate for people with disabilities sits at 32.8%; compared to 77.1% for those without disabilities.⁴ At PYD, we have designed a curriculum and internship program to address this disparity and instill the powerful lesson to our youth that they can be successful at work.

All of our interns participate in our Career Readiness programming, where they express career interests they would like to explore. They practice professional introductions, disclosures, and mock interviews. They work with program specialists to build resumes and practice their networking skills. For many PYD youth, their internship is their first experience with meaningful employment where they can demonstrate their professional and self-determination skills in a paid work environment.

PYD intern Said Yonis learned professional and life skills during his internship at The Advocacy Magazine in May and June 2021. Said researched news, wrote articles, and managed social media accounts. He used the internship to practice self-advocacy. “I had a hard time self-advocating and that was one of my challenges. Since being in [the internship] I’ve noticed that I’ve improved by asking for help when I needed it,” he said.

Said was not the only one to benefit from the internship. Andrew Carr, founder of The Advocacy Magazine and Said’s supervisor said, “I am so happy [with the internship experience] and hope we helped him in finding his career path.” The impact of hosting an intern is profound for other employers as well. Many of our site supervisors have reported significant business growth in month-long internship experiences and a genuine enjoyment in working with the intern.

Providing an internship to young people with disabilities allows businesses to practice inclusion by committing to providing a significant learning opportunity to our youth. If this is something you desire for your company, please reach out to the Career Readiness Outreach Coordinator, Mehdi Raoufi at

Career Readiness Outreach Coordinator, Mehdi Raoufi contributed to this article.

¹ Accenture/Disability:IN study:
² Hartnett, Helen P. et al. “Employers’ Perceptions of the Benefits of Workplace Accommodations: Reasons to Hire, Retain and Promote People with Disabilities” Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 34, no. 1 (Jan 2011): 17 – 23.
³ Lindsay, S., Cagliostro, E., Albarico, M. et al. “A Systematic Review of the Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilities”, Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation 28 (Dec 2018): 634–655
⁴ source: National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE) reports