Youth Internships in California with YO! Disabled & Proud

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The AT Network collaborates with many other disability-related groups to make sure that people get their hands on accessible technology; YO! (Youth Organizing) Disabled and Proud is one of those groups.

YO! connects, organizes and educates youth with disabilities. One of the ways in which YO! does this is by helping youth develop leadership and job skills, which are essential to all people entering the job market or transitioning into a new arena.

Volunteering and working through internships are an important way to gain these skills. The YO! Volunteer Corps provides opportunities for youth to volunteer in ILCs to gain job and leadership skills, which can be utilized in internship programs or in employment. YO! informs youth of internship opportunities by holding webinars where organizations can present information regarding their internship programs and by sending opportunities out via the YO! ListServ. Internship programs vary in their focus but all work to provide a ton of positive outcomes:

  •         Learning about your assistive technology and access accommodation needs and how to advocate for them in a job setting;
  •        Becoming competitive in a competitive job market;
  •        Practicing the job application and interview process;
  •        Discovering your interests;
  •        Exploring different fields;
  •        Networking;
  •        Resume-building;
  •        Finding mentors;
  •        Developing skills such as public speaking, familiarity with particular software, time management, etc.;
  •        Getting familiar with working life and the work day;
  •        And a whole lot more!

Sara Moussavian, a former YO! volunteer who was

Sara Moussavian, former YO! volunteer

instrumental in developing YO!’s Disability History Week campaign, says of her current internship with the Paul K. Longmore Institute at San Francisco State University, “I work with other volunteers on organizational projects (such as an Oral History Project) while becoming further exposed to the Disability Community. I support in planning, recruitment of attendees, and implementing events, which the Institute organizes. I participate in weekly meetings with other volunteers and staff where educational conversations are held with regards to topics related to Disability Studies and/or Disability History. Since I am still an intern, I find it fascinating that I am still learning something every time we have a meeting or I work on a project. For example, through the Oral History Project, I am learning about some of the individuals who were participants in the 504 Protest. If I was not working on this project, I would not be learning about these individuals.”

Picture of Maddy Ruvolo, you woman with long brown hair smiling
Maddy Ruvolo, YO!’s Youth Advisory Council

Maddy Ruvolo, a member of YO!’s Youth Advisory Council, says of her recent internship: “This summer I was in the American Association of People with Disabilities summer internship program. Through the program, I interned in the office of Congressman Alan Grayson, where I compiled daily media clips of the congressman’s press coverage, drafted constituent response letters, answered phone calls, and did whatever else was needed. As someone who’s always been interested in politics, I loved learning more concretely about how the government actually functions. My favorite part of the internship was probably gathering press clips, because it was interesting to see how certain topics were framed by different news organizations. I also enjoyed drafting response letters, which gave me the chance to research a wide variety of issues (though I was most drawn to letters about disability and healthcare). Everyone in the office was incredibly welcoming, and I learned so much from them over the course of the summer. Needless to say, I had a really fantastic experience.”

Internships are available for high school students, post-high school students, undergraduate college students, graduate students, and beyond. To get started on your search for internships, check out the YO! website: YO! also provides information on internship opportunities through the YO! ListServ.
Have you ever participated in an internship program? What was your experience like? Let us know!

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