Former Bender Intern Joins the Disability:IN Next Gen Leader Program

Melissa is a former intern with the Bender Talent Programs team. While working with us, she supported hiring for disability talent programming with inclusive employers in multiple locations across the United States.

“As a disabled person myself, I loved working for Bender Consulting Services and fully supported its mission. While working there, I felt empowered being able to help my fellow disabled community advance in one the most crucial aspects of life, which is employment. Today, there are sadly still many places that see being disabled as a hindrance and therefore won’t hire those with them. You can’t advance in life without a livable income which only comes with having gainful employment. Disabled individuals can and do make great employees and they deserve to be given a chance. I really enjoyed working on community partnership outreach. The outreach work allowed Bender to share its mission and build bonds with the community partners for job placements or job openings for our candidates with disabilities.”

Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at age 3, disability advocacy has become a passion for Melissa, leading to her decision to pursue an advanced certificate in disability studies with City University of New York. These studies allowed her to expand on her Bachelor of Arts degree in public relations and advertising from Point Park University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.

“After leaving Bender, I was selected for the 2023 Disability:IN Next Gen Leader Program. This is a very selective program, and I am so honored to have been chosen to participate. With this program, I was matched with a corporate partner related to my intended career goals. They are helping me with job search aspects like resume writing, building my LinkedIn profile, job searching, interviewing advice, and how to go about disability disclosure/accommodation requests. This program started in March and continues until September with monthly webinars on these various career topics. I’m hopeful that through this program it will lead me to finding a suitable career position while also allowing me to network.”

We are so proud of the contributions Melissa made to our team while working for us to connect employers with talent from our community. We congratulate Melissa on her opportunity to participate in the prestigious Disability:IN Next Gen Leader Program. This program connects college students and recent graduates with disabilities to mentors across Disability:IN’s corporate partners.

As the first certified Disability-Owned Business Enterprise (DOBE), we understand the value of these types of mentoring programs and have participated in mentoring, both as a mentee and in providing professional development mentorship to other DOBEs as the designated DOBE Master Mentor.

We look forward to the upcoming Disability:IN conference in July and hope to meet some of the other NextGen Leaders, like Melissa, while there. We know that it is leaders, like Melissa, who turn their passion about the future for people with disabilities into careers, who will not only start future DOBEs, but become future change makers in corporations which have global influence on the employment of people with disabilities. We encourage you to stop by our Expo booth or join our CEO, Joyce Bender, for a panel discussion on sharing your story at the conference.