As adults with disabilities prepare to tackle the working world, they and their families may have questions about the Project SEARCH program.

What internship opportunities are available?

Some of the internship positions available include central supply technician, central sterilization processing, data entry or filing clerk, environmental services attendant, food service assistant, inpatient therapy aide, linen room and fitness center attendant, mail room staff, retail stocking, laboratory technician, information clerk, patient transporter/unit attendant, receptionist, member service, unit coordinator, child development aide, human resources assistant and many more.

Does Project SEARCH provide transportation?

No. Interns are responsible for transportation to and from their Project SEARCH internship and classroom sites.

How long is each internship rotation?

Each rotation lasts for 12 weeks. In the seventh week, interns meet with the Project SEARCH team, Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), their support networks, and support staffers to review their successes and start planning their next placement.

What does a typical day include?

During the first internship the interns will participate in classroom education at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital or Lankenau Medical Center from 9:00–10:00 am Monday through Friday. They will then participate in their internships from 10:00 am–2:00 pm.

During their second and third internships the interns will participate in their internships from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm Monday through Friday.

Are the internships paid positions?

No. These internships also do not effect any benefits one may receive.

Are interns required to receive a flu shot?

Yes. All employees, interns and volunteers throughout the Main Line Health System receive an annual flu shot.

Can interns request time off for an outside appointment?

The program is developed to be flexible enough so interns can continue to participate in routine medical appointments and therapy appointments. It will be important to inform the Project SEARCH Coordinator of any routine appointments so that the program can be adjusted as necessary.

What is appropriate work attire?

Interns are expected to have a clean, neat appearance and should dress according to the requirements of their position, as outlined by their department’s specific dress code. Clothing, hair, fingernails and jewelry should be neat, clean, safe and otherwise suitable for a health care environment.

Do interns bring their own lunch?

Interns may bring their lunch or purchase lunch in the cafeteria, if the internship site has a cafeteria. Interns are encouraged to eat with their co-workers and peers at the internship sites.

What is a job coach?

A job coach provides support to the intern and the internship department. A job coach is responsible for ensuring that each intern completes assigned tasks properly. The job coach reports complications and challenges to the Project SEARCH Coordinator. The job coach facilitates conflict resolution and will help develop strategies that support interns in completing their responsibilities independently. The goal of job coaching support is to fade out and the intern will be independent in their tasks. Once the job coaches fade out, the intern will have the natural support of the peer mentor. The Project SEARCH team will then complete routine check ins and can come back in, if needed.

Job Coaching support is provided to all interns during their internship rotations. As long as an intern secures employment, either during their internships or during the supported job development time frame, job coaching support will be provided in employment through Project SEARCH.

What is a peer mentor?

A peer mentor is an employee of the business partner. Identified as a natural support for the intern, they will complete the intern’s initial training and be the go-to person in the department if the intern has any questions. The peer mentor will also meet with the intern and Project SEARCH staff on a routine basis (weekly or bi-weekly) to ensure that everything is going smoothly and all issues/concerns are resolved.

Is job placement guaranteed at the conclusion of the program?

No. However, if interns meet the requirements for an available position with the company hosting their internship, they’re encouraged to apply and can complete additional job development within the program.

If Project SEARCH isn’t a fit, can an intern withdraw?

Yes. Interns can leave the program at any time.

Do interns have to wait until the end of the program to begin a job search?

No. Interns can begin their job search as soon as they’re qualified for employment. If they’re hired, they will then move into the supported job placement portion of the program.

What does my Project SEARCH program look like once I secure employment?

Once an intern secures employment, their internship rotations will conclude. The intern will focus solely on their employment. Job coaching support will be offered to all interns as long as they secure employment during their internship rotations or during their supported job development time frame. Intensity of the support will depend on the intern's needs. Once they are independent the program coordinator will stay in contact with the intern on a weekly basis or as needed. Project SEARCH will continue support throughout 90 calendar days of employment.

What if an intern misses a day?

He or she is responsible for scheduling time with the Project SEARCH Coordinator to review what was missed and plan a way to make up the work.

What screening does the program complete?

All interns are referred to the program by the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), which is a government agency that helps people with disabilities become productive members of society. Each intern has been referred as an appropriate candidate by the professional rehabilitation counselors at OVR. Project SEARCH completes criminal background checks, child abuse clearances and drug screens for all interns. All interns receive a TB QFT screening and a flu vaccination (during flu season).

Is employment only found in the business partners?

No. Fifty percent is within business partners and 50 percent is in the community. We strive to do what is best for the intern.

Frequently asked questions from business partners

What is Project SEARCH?

Project SEARCH is a community collaboration that enables individuals with disabilities to gain and maintain employment through learning and on the job experience. The classroom learning takes place during the first of three internships for an hour a day, five days per week, and is held at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital or Lankenau Medical Center. Job experience is obtained through internship rotations, which are 12 weeks in length and are 20 to 25 hours per week.

What is the goal of the internships?

The goal of an internship is to provide the intern with real work experience and training in that specific position. The intern should learn all aspects of the position. If there are areas that the intern is unable to complete, this should be identified and provided to the Project SEARCH team. At the conclusion of the internship the intern should be competent in this position so that if it became available, they would be an appropriate fit.

How much will this program cost my company?

There is no financial support required from the business partner. Business partners provide interns with work experience and learning. The only cost is the time a peer mentor spends training interns. Job coaching support is available from Project SEARCH at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital to ensure that your company’s peer mentor can complete their own daily responsibilities.

What is a peer mentor?

A peer mentor is an employee of the business partner who is the specialist in the internship placement, provides the initial training of the internship and is a natural support throughout the internship.

What is a job coach?

A job coach is an employee of Project SEARCH who has the unique skill set to work with and provide support to individuals with disabilities. The job coach will support the intern and the department of the internship. The job coach will develop strategies that support interns as they complete their responsibilities independently. Our goal is that the job coaching support will gradually and naturally fade out and interns will work independently.

What might be the disability?

The disabilities vary, but are focused on cognitive and physical disabilities. Project SEARCH engages in discussions with the interns regarding their disability and what information they are comfortable with sharing during their internships. Project SEARCH is only allowed to provide information if it affects the specific tasks involved in the internship.

Are interns screened?

Each intern is referred as an appropriate candidate by the professional rehabilitation counselors at the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR). Project SEARCH completes additional criminal background checks, child abuse clearances and drug screens for all interns. Interns also receive a tuberculosis screening and a flu vaccination (during flu season).

Who supports the interns during the program?

A Project SEARCH employee is available at all times during the internship. Project SEARCH is located at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital in Malvern. In April 2014, Project SEARCH opened a satellite classroom located at Lankenau Medical Center in Wynnewood. Job coaches also are available to support the individuals and OVR is available for support, when necessary.

How long is each rotation?

Each rotation lasts 12 weeks.

How many days a week does Project SEARCH operate?

Five days each week, Monday through Friday.

What is a typical day?

During the first rotation, interns participate in classroom education at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital or Lankenau Medical Center from 9:00–10:00 am Monday through Friday and then continue to their internship rotation from 10:00 am–2:00 pm. During subsequent job rotations, interns work on the job from 9:00 am–2:00 pm Monday through Friday.

What if the internship is not an appropriate match?

If an internship is not appropriate, our business partner should contact Project SEARCH and they will collaborate to achieve success. This may mean that job coaching support will continue or the internship will be concluded and the intern will be reassigned.

What is the importance of feedback?

Project SEARCH can only help an intern if they are aware of the issues and challenges. All interns are aware that feedback is part of the program. Project SEARCH believes that all feedback is positive. It is information that will help facilitate growth, awareness, education and appropriate job placement. Peer mentors, department managers, members of the business partner and job coaches should never be apprehensive to discuss issues/concerns. This program is a learning tool for the interns.

Is job placement guaranteed at the conclusion of the program and/or internship?

We do not guarantee job placement with Project SEARCH. However, if an intern meets the requirements for an available position, they are encouraged and supported to apply.

What are the intern’s expectations of the program?

  1. Receive training on how to be the best employee possible
  2. Receive feedback regarding performance
  3. Use the program for career exploration
  4. Build a professional network
  5. Strengthen their resume
  6. These are unpaid internships
  7. Employment is NOT GUARANTEED at the end of the program.