Students with Disabilities

How is career planning affected by having a disability?

Make time for career development and planning.  Students with disabilities are typically a year to two years behind their peers in relation to progress in career development. Because of their added attention to coursework and other commitments, students with disabilities may feel that they do not have the time to engage in career development activities.  This can make a student feel like they have little control over their own career development. It is important that you make time to seek out experiences in college that will help you clarify your career interests.

Build skills now. Understand how disability impacts you across academic and employment settings.  Self-advocacy skills, requesting accommodations and being comfortable with your disabilities are important transferable skills for employment that you will learn in college.

Start with your strengths! Look beyond your disability and know your unique strengths, skills and traits so that you can articulate your value to employers. 

Meet with a career coach. Schedule an appointment with or contact Scott Ploharz at the University Career Center to speak to someone about your career development.


Quick tip

For additional tips on career planning, disclosure, accommodations, and resources, download our handout for students with disabilities.



  • When to disclose: Deciding when to disclose your disability to an employer or potential employer is a personal decision that will likely vary based on your specific disability and what type of accommodations you need. You are not required to disclose your disability or request an accommodation before a job offer is made. Some applicants choose to disclose during the interview process and others wait until after they are offered the job.
  • How to disclose: How much information you disclose to your employer is up to you. You are not required to give a specific diagnosis, only that you need an adjustment due to a medical condition or disability. However, keep in mind that if your disability is not obvious, the employer may request that you provide documentation to establish that there is a need for an accommodation as required by the ADA.
  • About the law: Individuals with disabilities are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Keep in mind, to be a qualified candidate, you must be able to perform the “essential functions” of the job with or without accommodations.
  • Essential Job Functions: Despite disability, employees must be able to perform essential job functions. This can include: meeting deadlines, planning and organizing tasks, and producing a quality product.
  • Accommodations: New professionals with disabilities should carefully think through what is needed to function optimally on the job prior to the hiring process.
  • Visible Disabilities: Individuals visible disabilities will need to initiate discussions about reasonable accommodations prior to or during the hiring process.
  • Invisible Disabilities: Individuals with invisible disabilities have the option to initiate discussions about reasonable accommodations after the hiring process.
  • Cost of Accommodations: Most accommodations cost less than $500.  Employers can receive tax incentives for accommodation costs.
Internship resources
  • Emerging Leaders Internship program - Competitive internship program that places undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities in fulfilling summer internships and provides them with leadership development opportunities.
  • ENTRY POINT! - A Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), offering internship opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities in science, engineering, mathematics, computer science, and some fields of business.
  • Job Accommodations Network (JAN) - The Job Accommodation Network is a service provided by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). JAN represents the most comprehensive resource for job accommodations available.
  • AAPD Internship program -  Each year, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) hosts two Summer Internship Programs for College Students with Disabilities in Washington, DC, providing paid travel to and from DC, paid fully-accessible housing, and living stipends.
  • Smithsonian Internship for People with Disabilities - A myriad of opportunities offered at the world’s preeminent museum system. Offers several exciting internships for students and recent graduates with disabilities. Rolling applications.
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network – Freddie Mac Internship Program - Freddie Mac, a leading mortgage finance company, partners with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network to fill paid internship opportunities. To apply, you must be a recent graduate or current student at a higher education institution and you must be an individual on the autism spectrum.
  • The Kennedy Center – Various opportunities available for individuals with disabilities.
Job search boards

Helpful Videos

Disclosing Visable Disabilities

Disclosing Invisible Disabilities

Disabilities & Functional Limitations

Events, Workshops, & Info Sessions
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University Career Center
6th in the nation for its social media presence in 2013 —
Winner of the 2013 Innovation Excellence Award in Research —National Association of Colleges and Employers
2009 National Chevron Award winner for excellence in career services —National Association of Colleges and Employers
2010 National Chevron Award finalist for excellence in career services —National Association of Colleges and Employers
Professional Clothing Closet won Service Program of the Year —2011-12 Jayhawk Choice Awards
More than 500 students enroll in career classes annually
Each year more than 7,500 jobs and 1,400 internships are posted in KU Career Connections
University Career Center hosts eight career fairs each year
More than 360 organizations attended University Career Center career fairs the past academic year
More than 10,000 students attended University Career Center workshops in 2012-13