Seize Your Superpower
Students with disabilities lead our learning environments toward a deeper understanding of what makes us uniquely human through our differences in ability. Navigating UCSB with a disability may be a highly individualized experience, but it does not have to happen alone.
Career Services is committed to ensuring that students of all abilities gain access to employment opportunities and graduate schools that match goals and qualifications. We are here to help you enhance your employability and highlight the value you offer to the workforce with a focus on individual talents and needs. Use this page to move your career forward alongside any disability.
Key Campus Resources @ UCSB
Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)
Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) is a “Schedule A” recruitment program that connects federal government and private-sector employers nationwide to highly motivated college students with disabilities. UCSB currently participates in WRP, providing access to opportunities that range from summer internships to full-time positions, for all class levels in all occupational fields.
For an overview of the program, watch the Student Guide to WRP video, read Success Stories from past applicants, or review the FAQs for WRP. Questions can be emailed to the Community Liaison to Students With Disabilities indicated on this page.
Registration is currently closed and will reopen in September 2021. Click the items below for details regarding the current application cycle (2020-21).
To be eligible to participate in WRP for the 2020-21 recruitment cycle, you must meet all of the following criteria:
- Be a current U.S. Citizen.
- Be currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at UCSB on a full-time basis (part-time students are eligible under if the reduced course load is due to a disability/COVID-19 OR if taking less than a substantially full-time load in last quarter prior to graduation) OR have graduated with a degree on or after April 1, 2018.
- Be a student with an intellectual, severe physical, or psychiatric disability under the "Schedule A" hiring authority (all students at UCSB who are registered with the Disabled Students Program are instantly eligible; consult the "Schedule A" Checklist for details).
Registration is currently closed.
When registration is open, submit your Registration Request by clicking on the Student Registration button on the WRP Website and complete the initial registration form for New Student Registration. No late registration forms will be accepted. Note that your next deadline comes up quickly; see Step 2 for required steps.
Once you have received an email confirming that your New Student Registration has been approved, log into the WRP website to submit your Student Application (Note: You must use the link in your email to login the first time).
Your completed application and all documents must be submitted by Thursday, October 15, 2020:
- Identification and Contact Information
- Resume (Traditional Format OR Federal Format); you are encouraged to utilize Document Review from Career Services for general feedback
- Transcript (Official or Unofficial)
- Academic Information including major, degree, GPA, number of credit hours, credit type, etc.
- Disability Category (for statistical purposes only, not shown to federal agencies)
- Optional: Supporting documents, such as letters of recommendation, writing samples, and "Schedule A" letter
If you require accommodations for your upcoming Informational Interview (see Step 3), please email the Community Liaison to Students With Disabilities indicated on this page to inquire about options by Thursday, October 15, 2020.
Example accommodations include:
- ASL Interpreter
- Captioning Services
- Video Interview
- Written Interview
- Extended Time
All candidates who register and apply by the above deadlines will be contacted via email between October 21-23 to schedule a 30-45 minute Informational Interview via phone with a WRP Recruiter, which will take place between October 26-November 18.
The Informational Interview is not a job interview, but a safe space for candidates to receive brief mentorship on their career goals and resume. WRP Recruiters do not evaluate candidates, but instead provide advice, feedback, and guidance about careers in federal service.
Here is how to prepare for your Informational Interview:
- Review the WRP Student Information Interview Guide and research careers in federal agencies you are interested in.
- Create a list of questions you would like to ask about careers in federal service for your specific goals (you can begin by exploring career options on USAJobs).
- Practice the general process of asking and responding to questions using your free Big Interview account and tips on how to Do Informational Interviews.
- Find a quiet space and begin the session on time as scheduled (instructions will be provided via email).
To maintain your candidacy in the recruitment process, it is required that you respond to all communications within a timely manner and conduct your Informational Interview at the time that is scheduled. For questions at any point during this process, please email the Community Liaison to Students With Disabilities indicated on this page.
Begin taking steps to obtain a "Schedule A" letter. The "Schedule A" letter is not required in the WRP application process, but candidates must confirm that they are eligible for "Schedule A" and they should have a "Schedule A" letter on hand or be working to acquire one in fall. Candidates will not upload this letter to the WRP website, but should be prepared to provide it to an agency’s Human Resources official when it is requested prior to receiving an offer of employment. WRP candidates cannot be hired by federal agencies through "Schedule A" without a "Schedule A" letter.
Here are the recommended guidelines on "Schedule A" letters for WRP:
- Must be written and signed by a licensed medical professional, certified vocational rehabilitation professional, or any federal/state agency that issues or provides disability benefits.
- Must state that you have an intellectual disability, severe physical disability, or psychiatric disability. Does NOT need to state the specific nature of the disability, detail any medical history, or explain needs for accommodation. (Note: The simpler the letter is, the better.)
- Must be printed on official letterhead in a format similar to this Sample "Schedule A" Letter.
Note: If you are registered with the Disabled Students Program (DSP), you are able to use the same letter that you submitted for DSP eligibility, if you feel comfortable and if it follows the above guidelines. Alternatively, you can obtain a new letter that follows the recommended format. "Schedule A" letters do not expire, though you should confirm that the certifying entity can still be reached at the contact information provided.
In mid-December 2020, all candidates who complete Steps 1-3 will be placed into a government recruiting database and can be contacted by various federal agencies for interviews or direct offers of employment between December 2020 and June 2021 for summer positions, and up until December 2021 for permanent positions. Please note that placement into the recruiting database does not guarantee that candidates will be contacted for interviews or employment offers, however, past candidates from UCSB have received follow-up offers from federal agencies.
If you are contacted with an offer of employment and you accept, it is important to note that "Schedule A" hires have a probationary period of two years. You will be able to inquire about this further with an agency's Human Resources official during the hiring process. We also encourage you to review our Don't Get Scammed tips to identify warnings signs of potential scams regarding job offers, as scams can occur with any form of job searching.
To gain the most benefit from WRP, we recommend that you utilize a proactive job search strategy to introduce yourself and Make Targeted Connections with federal agencies. In your introduction, you can choose to share that you have earned the "Schedule A" hiring authority through WRP, which can make the hiring process more direct for any federal position. You can explore career options further on the USAJOBS page for Individuals With Disabilities, as well as any resource within the USAJOBS platform.
Get Hired: Students With Disabilities
For complete information on job search strategies, resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn, interviews, and more, review our starter tips to Get Hired in all careers as well as the specialized tips on this page.
Learning About Reasonable Accommodations
As a student with a disability, one of the most important steps you can take to prepare for your career is to learn about accommodations within the workplace. Provided by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), reasonable accommodations vary widely and can include modifying policies, restructuring jobs, creating more effective work spaces, and much more. These accommodations can be requested at any time during employment.
Here are the three categories of reasonable accommodations as defined by ADA:
- Modifications or adjustments to a job application process.
- Modifications or adjustments to the work environment, or to the manner or circumstances under which the position held or desired is customarily performed.
- Modifications or adjustments that enable the enjoyment of equal benefits and privileges of employment.
We strongly encourage you to review ADA to understand whether your specific disability qualifies for reasonable accommodations, which are provided when they do not pose an “undue hardship” to an employer and are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Disclosing a Disability
When you consider disclosing a disability to a current or future employer, it is often a sensitive matter with many nuanced aspects. Whether your goal is to obtain work accommodations, gain support in the hiring process, or help others understand your circumstances with greater clarity, disclosure can often be complex.
Click below for tips to guide your decisions.
Disclosing a disability is your personal decision. Employers may ask you whether you would like to voluntarily disclose any disabilities during the hiring process, however, you are not required to do so.
Generally, it is advantageous for you to disclose a disability when any of the following conditions apply:
- When sharing the information is necessary in order to request reasonable accommodations (for a qualifying disability under ADA) to perform the job well.
- When sharing the information will help the employer better understand the context of a visible disability (e.g., if you don’t make eye contact with others or you talk about a lot of different topics quickly).
- When sharing the information upfront is deeply important to you working in an environment that openly values differences in ability.
If one or more of these conditions are not met, it is generally not recommended to disclose a disability to an employer. While some employers will respond positively to this type of information, certain instances of disclosure (including invisible disabilities) can be less advantageous for you. ADA prohibits discrimination against qualifying disabilities that require reasonable accommodations, however, discrimination does still occur.
Your decision to disclose should be focused on your ability to perform the required job tasks, not for an employer to get to know you as a person.
If you have decided that it is helpful for you to disclose a disability, the timing of your disclosure is the next important decision. Do you disclose during your application materials, during your interview, soon after an offer is made, or sometime after you begin work?
Depending on your disability and level of comfort, your answers to these questions will vary. Strategically, it is important to not disclose too early, however, it may be too late if you wait until any issues with performance have been noticed.
To determine the best time to disclose, you may wish to use the general guidelines below.
- Visible Disabilities: These disabilities are best disclosed during the first meeting in which your potential employer physically sees you (i.e., usually an in-person or virtual interview). During an interview, a natural time to bring this up can be during your answer to a question about your strengths or weaknesses. In this type of question, you can address your disability and explain how it has helped create your uniquely valuable qualities and accomplishments; resourcefulness, innovation, and resilience are just a few of your many strengths! (Note that it is typically not advantageous to disclose visible disabilities beforehand on application materials, unless you see a specific benefit in doing so.)
- Invisible Disabilities: If you choose to disclose an invisible disability, it is likely because you have decided to request reasonable accommodations to perform your job. Because of this, the best time to disclose an invisible disability is usually in conversation, toward the end of an in-person interview or after an offer is made.
- Programs for People With Disabilities (e.g., WRP): These programs actively recruit people with disabilities, which typically establishes a safer space for open disclosure. In these instances, it is usually most advantageous to disclose a disability in the application materials and in the interview process, to encourage open discussion about your disabilities. (Note that for WRP, you do not need to disclose your specific disability in order to participate. See program description for details.)
Under ADA, an employer must have reasonable belief that an accommodation will be needed in order to perform job functions. Reasonable belief can be gained because of an obvious visible disability or because of any type of disability that you have voluntarily disclosed.
Generally, it is best to begin your disclosure through a conversation with your employer. A helpful phrase to introduce this topic can be “You may have noticed that I…” and explain how it does not affect your primary responsibilities in this position. Then, you can explore options and inquire about the process of requesting reasonable accommodations to perform your job duties. This conversation is often worthwhile even when you do not know exactly which accommodations may be available.
Within one or two days of your conversation, we recommend that you follow up with a written request. This is not required, however, it is helpful to have a record of your request, even if it is simply through an email.
When compiling your written request for accommodations, be sure to include the following:
- Description: Identify yourself as a person with a qualifying disability under ADA, describe your specific needs, and indicate the job tasks that are affected.
- Request: State that you are requesting accommodations under ADA because of your qualifying disability.
- Options: Describe your ideas for reasonable accommodations.
- Response: Ask the employer to respond to your accommodation request within a reasonable amount of time.
- Attachments: Optionally, attach medical documentation, only if it is needed for reasonable belief.
In all forms of communication with an employer, you do not need to describe your specific disability in order to receive reasonable accommodations under ADA.
Using the Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
For further information, the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is a free, confidential, consultation service that provides guidance and recommendations on job accommodations in the workplace and disability disclosure, related to ADA. JAN has experts who understand all types of disabilities and accommodations that may be needed. Note that JAN is unaffiliated with UCSB, but you can learn how to connect with the organization below.
Read additional tips about accommodations and disclosure on the National Collaborative On Workforce and Disability publications page and the Learn How To Become disabilities career guide.
Job Search Strategies
Entering the workforce can bring about several differences during the transition between school and work. To help you be successful when applying to jobs and navigating work environments with a disability, we recommend that you conduct research on the employers that you are applying to, to ensure that they have an Equal Employment Opportunity statement which they stand by.
Additionally, maintain a strong support system to minimize any challenges you may face; remember that you are paving the path for other people with your disability who share similar career interests, positioning you as a developing leader.
Here are some initial resources that can support your search for work:
- Ability Jobs: Enables people with disabilities to enhance their professional lives by providing a dedicated system for finding employment. By posting job opportunities, or searching resumes, employers can find qualified persons with disabilities as well as demonstrate their affirmative action and open door policies.
- American Association of People with Disabilities: Offers a job board to improve the lives of people with disabilities by acting as a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities.
- Disability.Gov: Government-run job board with listings from across the nation from companies specifically seeking employees with disabilities.
- Pro Able: Helps you find a job that works for you at an employer that recruits people with disabilities.
- Talent Knows No Limits: Serves to spread awareness of the myriad services and resources available to the disabled job-seeking community.
See our Job Search Strategies page for complete information about finding work.
Inclusive Recruitment Programs
Certain employers make a concerted effort to hire people with disabilities, due to a range of policy considerations, labor market needs, and inclusivity practices. While these programs vary widely in terms of industry, field, and occupation, some programs are coordinated for specialized circumstances and others are offered more widely.
Here is a list of example programs that focus on inclusive recruitment of people with disabilities:
- HP: Recruits students with disabilities who are studying fields related to Computer Science, Information Technology, Supply Chain, or Finance through its Spectrum Success Program.
- Microsoft: Regularly recruits candidates with disabilities through its Autism Hiring Program and Ability Hiring Events, offers inclusive interviews, and takes proactive steps to create a culture of inclusivity at work.
- SAP: Employs people with autism through the Autism at Work Program to reduce potential barriers in the job search process.
- USAJobs - Individuals With Disabilities: Provides information about federal government hiring programs for people with disabilities, as made available through "Schedule A"; note that there are personnel at federal agencies called Selective Placement Program Coordinators (SPPC) and Disability Program Managers (DPM) that specifically seek to engage individuals with disabilities to fill their agencies’ jobs.
- Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP): “Schedule A” recruitment program that connects federal government and private-sector employers nationwide to highly motivated college students with disabilities. UCSB currently participates in WRP.
Employment Rights and Benefits
As a person with a disability, there are benefits available to help accommodate for the disadvantages which you may experience at work. To understand the resources available to you and how to obtain them, review the following information.
Here are some highlighted resources to that can support these needs:
- Benefits for People With Disabilities (U.S. Social Security Administration): Gives information on the Social Security benefits available to those with disabilities.
- Disability Benefits 101: Supplies tools and information on health coverage, benefits, and employment. You can plan ahead and learn how work and benefits go together.
- Disability Employment (U.S. Office of Personnel Management): Offers an overview of federal employment for students with disabilities.
- Disability Rights California: Serves to advance the rights of Californians with disabilities through education and support.
- Job Applicants and the ADA (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission): Provides information related to the laws and rights people with disabilities have when seeking employment and in the workplace.
Succeeding in the Workplace
Whether you choose to request accommodations for a disability at work, disclose a disability without requesting accommodations, or keep information about a disability private, it is important that you have the necessary tools to be successful in the workplace.
Due to the individualized nature of occupations and the people who work in these roles, job duties may benefit from a range of different resources and strategies to perform them successfully. For example, some tools include the Resources for Hard-of-Hearing and Deaf in the Workplace, the Employment Resources for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired, and the Job Resources for Individuals with Autism. As a person with a disability, there may be specific forms of assistance available to support you in your job, so be sure to investigate further if the above examples do not pertain to you.