Internships are opportunities to learn about a job and gain experience working with an employer over a set period of time. They can be paid or unpaid, and part time or full time. Most are connected to education programs and last between four weeks and a year.

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Help for Young People Considering their Future - Part 4

Dec 5, 2016

The On-Ramp to Employment

Our News and Views blog series, Help for Young People Considering Their Future, is written for young people with disabilities moving from school into the workforce. Discovering the type of work you enjoy and find rewarding is an important first step when you’re thinking about a job. The good news is there are people who can guide you through this process!  

This installment in our youth-in-transition blog series will help you think about:

  • Steps you can take to find an internship or work-based experience
  • Internship resources to explore

Internships are opportunities to learn about a job and gain experience working with an employer over a set period of time. They can be paid or unpaid, and part time or full time. Most are connected to education programs and last between four weeks and a year.

Steps for Finding an Internship or Other Work-Based Experience

About Ticket to Work

Social Security’s Ticket to Work program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

Learn more

To learn more about Ticket Work, contact and the Ticket to Work Help Line at 1-866-968-7842 (Voice) or 1-866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket to Work Find Help tool.

  1. Decide what kind of experience you want. Try to match your work experiences with your career interests. If you’re not sure what you want to do, take a career interest assessment like the one at

  2. Look for opportunities. A great way to start your search is to ask your friends and family if they know about opportunities that match your interests. Often, people connect to work experiences through their personal and professional networks.

  • If you’re looking for a part-time or summer job, search the online classifieds section of your local newspaper. Some nonprofit organizations and local government agencies run youth employment programs, including short-term paid work experiences. These experiences usually last six to eight weeks during the summer. To learn about these programs, contact your local American Job Center and ask about youth programs and summer jobs. Some American Job Centers are also Ticket to Work Employment Networks; be sure to ask.

  • Schools often keep lists of employers that offer internships. If you aren’t in school, you can visit an American Job Center to meet with a career counselor. These offices can help you find and prepare for internships.

  • If there are specific employers you’d like to work for, look for opportunities on their websites. Don’t be afraid to reach out to these employers directly to find out more about what it’s like to work for them and what they’re looking for in an employee or volunteer.

  1. Apply. When applying for internships or jobs, employers may ask you for a resume and cover letter. For help creating these, reach out to your school guidance counselor or someone in your personal network. You can also look for resume and cover letter tips online.
  • Interviews are an important part of the application process. You can prepare for an interview by doing a practice interview. Answer all questions honestly and with a positive attitude. Remember your goal in an interview is to sell yourself, so make sure to highlight your special skills and why you’re the best candidate for the job. Interviewing well takes practice. Think of each interview as a learning experience!

Internship Resources

Internships and volunteer work are both good opportunities to build self-esteem and learn while helping others! Check out these resources for ideas, or call the Ticket to Work Help Line number below.

  • The Workforce Recruitment Program is a recruitment and referral program. It connects federal and private sector employers nationwide with highly motivated college students and recent graduates with disabilities who are eager to prove their abilities in the workplace through summer or permanent jobs.
  • The Pathways Programs promote employment in the federal workforce to current students and recent graduates. They offer specific programs for current students, recent graduates of qualifying educational institutions or programs, and people with advanced degrees.
  • Employers across the country post internship opportunities at Click the “Search Internships” link at the top of the page to get started. This site has mostly college-level internships.
  • The guide Internships: The On-Ramp to Employment helps youth, including youth with disabilities, get and make the most of internships.

To learn about others who weighed the risks and rewards of job hunting and have stories to share, read or watch Ticket to Work Success Stories

Check out other News and Views installments of Help for Young People Considering their Future:

Notes and Sources

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