INDIANAPOLIS — Evening the playing field – that is what the head of an internship program geared towards students with autism offered said is the main goal of the program.
“I've been almost obsessed with dinosaurs for 16 years,” Alec Deule said. That is one of the reasons why the Children's Museum of Indianapolis was the perfect place to land an internship.
“It took a couple of years to get here, but I interned this past summer and I applied on my own for a second internship,” Deule said.
The University of Indianapolis senior is studying archaeology. He is part of the “College InternXeperience Program” through Easterseals Crossroads.
“The internship is important because it gives me experience with one, my major, but two with an actual job,” Deule said.
The 22-year-old is the museum’s first intern through this program.
“We created the program so that we could develop those internships for the students and then work with them through the whole application process, support them in the interview and then once they're in the internship, we can provide support,” Marjorie Duryea, Director of Employment Programs at Easterseals Crossroads said.
Since starting in 2016, the program has provided nearly 100 internship experiences for students with autism.
“Most college students have internship experience and it gives them an edge when they graduate and they're looking for employment. And we want individuals with autism to have that same experience,” Duryea said.
Not only does the program help students like Alec gain real world experience, it also helps companies too.
“It provides education that disability is about ability,” Duryea said.
As Deule’s internship ends, he is looking towards the future and just thankful for the experiences gained at the Children's Museum.
“The experience here has made me think about what other options there might be, instead of focusing on just one path -- maybe there's other options,” Deule said.
The intern program is now partnered with nine colleges.