Why Internships Are Important for Young Disabled People: A Reflection from a Rooted in Rights Intern

Photo of a smartphone, a notebook and pen, and a cup of coffee on a wooden table. Written in the notebook is "internship, experience, learning, exposure, practice."

My experience interning at Rooted In Rights was a great one. During my time there, I gained a lot of skills I can use in the workplace. Here’s just some of what I learned and accomplished:

Have a Professional Email Address

Everyone has a silly email address from when they were young, but as you grow older and start a career, it’s time to be professional! I created a professional email address through Gmail so that I can make a positive impression on future employers and colleagues. 

Figure Out How to Navigate Technology

I encountered some accessibility issues while using Google programs. Tables in Google Docs and spreadsheets in Google Sheets were formatted in a way that was difficult to navigate with VoiceOver on my iPhone, which I use because I am blind. I worked to research and learn about settings within Google that make the programs easier to navigate. I have learned that I am a more patient person when it comes to technology than I thought I could be!

Meet Your Colleagues for Coffee

I worked to figure out how to copy and paste multiple email addresses into the address bar in the Apple Mail app. Then, I sent a group email asking fellow team members for their availability to meet for coffee and invited them using Google Calendar. We had a great time!

Write About What’s Important to You

I chose a topic, wrote a blog post, edited with team members, and coordinated the date for publishing. I also wrote a short bio to accompany the post and share text for social media. And now, I’m writing this blog post! I know this is just the start of my writing career.

Be Professional in Communication

I also learned professional communication skills, including how and when to ask for assistance, and when to problem solve on my own. I have good social skills, which is really came in handy and helped me realize that I will make a great team member in the future.

Practice Navigating
Overall, the biggest challenge I experienced was learning the route to and from work, and mobility in the office. As a blind person, it can be more challenging for me to learn where things are than someone who is sighted. However, I improved upon my mobility greatly during my internship.

I hope to continue to grow from my internship experience and gain more skills like the ones I shared so that I can live an independent life. I believe it is so important to give disabled youth internships and work experiences because we bring valuable skills to the table. We’re very capable of contributing to the workplace. Sometimes, we just might need to do things a little differently.

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Saraphia is a blind high school student who is passionate about emergency services, crisis intervention, and technology. In 2019, Saraphia worked as an intern for Rooted in Rights through the YES (Youth Employment Solutions) program in Seattle, which strives to assist blind youth in the development of career skills and independence.