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SECTION 1: College Life

Student Employment with the Federal Government

by Cheryl Fogle

Editors' Introduction: Cheryl Fogle is a former president of the New Mexico Association of Blind Students, as well as a graduate of the Colorado Center for the Blind. Currently, she is a doctoral candidate at the University of New Mexico in Anthropology. She works for the Army Corps of Engineers, and below she describes how she arrived at this position, as well as provides helpful resources for students seeking employment.

During the summer of 2005, I received a unique opportunity to work for the Federal Government through the Work Force Recruitment Program (WRP) for college students with disabilities. Because of this, I now work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District, where I assist archaeologists with various tasks. My duties include writing correspondence and reports, reviewing the results of archaeological excavations required for projects or permits, contacting museums where the Corps stores artifacts and writing documents that instruct Corps staff how to protect the archaeological sites under their jurisdiction. My work has given me an insider's view of government regulations designed to preserve archaeological sites--a perspective missing from my academic studies.

WRP is designed to be a temporary employment program to help students gain job experience. Appointments last for fourteen weeks, which is an ideal length for summer internships. Once a student has started work and proved his or her capabilities, other employment opportunities can be arranged.

For instance, This fall my supervisor arranged funding to extend my employment with the Corps for the next academic year. Therefore, my current position is not part of a disabilities program.

WRP offers internships in a variety of geographic locations. Half of the positions are located in the Washington, D.C. area working for the two sponsoring agencies--the Department of Defense and the Department of Labor. WRP staff provides information about temporary housing in various university dorms, but the student must make his or her own living arrangements and pay for housing while in D.C. The remaining positions are located in various agencies throughout the United States.

In January and February of each year, WRP interviewers visit college campuses nationwide. Students interested in this program should check with their school's career services or disabled students office to see when a recruiter will be visiting their campus. The WRP makes a database containing students' majors and skills available to federal agencies and any private sector employers who request copies. Once the database is released, all job offers and accommodations are arranged between the applicant and the employer. More information about WRP is available online at www.opm.gov/disability.

Federal employees are eligible for the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP), which supplies screen readers, scanning software and electronic notetakers. A recruiter or supervisor can make an accommodations request to CAP which will order and pay for the equipment. More information about CAP is available at www.tricare.osd.mil/cap.

The Federal government has many opportunities for student employment. These programs seek students from diverse backgrounds, so students involved in the NFB may find other opportunities not restricted to being a disabled student. Examples include Women in Public Policy Internships, Washington Internships for Native Students and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities' National Internship Program. Internship listings and their pay rates are available online at www.usajobs.gov and www.studentjobs.gov. Full-time, permanent positions are also listed on the usajobs website. All websites listed in this article are easy to navigate using a screen reader such as JAWS or Window Eyes.

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