89 %

of UI REACH graduates are employed

a year after graduation

UI REACH students explore career options, prepare for internships, and build workplace readiness skills through course work, setting realistic career goals, mock interviews, field trips, and special guest presentations.  

With one of the highest placement rates in the nation among similar programs, most UI REACH students are employed a year after graduation.

In the first year, UI REACH students explore career options, prepare for internships, and build workplace readiness skills through course work, setting realistic career goals, mock interviews, field trips, and special guest presentations. The second year involves job search strategies and work experience internships.

Student in Voxman smiling
Two people collaborating at desks

UI REACH staff supports students in their interviews, first day of work, and over time as needed. Hard skills are learned on the job through training provided by the internship site. Regularly scheduled site visits from UI REACH staff that include reports and data analysis help guide any interventions and feedback needed for the students’ improvement and success.

UI REACH includes two key factors for success in career development:

  • Classroom Study – Core career education classes taught by UI REACH instructors

  • Experiential Learning - Job Shadows and Internships – Opportunities to build and practice the necessary skills and confidence to enhance career potential in inclusive work environments 

Year 1: Students focus on career exploration and expected workplace behaviors through classroom experiences and field trips.

  • The focus for year 1 is on learning and using general skills needed to successfully enter the workplace. Basic communication, problem solving skills, job expectations and performance expectations are emphasized.

  • Activities to build self-confidence, self-esteem and self-advocacy are offered. Year 1 includes exploring job interests through tours, community business member panels, informational interviews, and job shadows.

Year 2: Students identify areas of work interest and gain work experience through internships.

  • Opportunities to work in their chosen fields occur through internships in either volunteer or paid positions on campus or in the community. Starting in year 2 student have internship experiences two to three afternoons per week.

  • Students learn how to job search, develop a resume, practice interview skills, network, and learn about work place expectations, policies, and benefits.
  • Students research job opportunities in their home communities.

Students participate in selected job shadowing and internship experiences.

Internship shifts vary based on the needs of the business and the abilities of the students. Typically, internship shifts are 6-12 hours per week.

UI REACH staff provide drop in internship site visits based on the needs of each student and employer.  Staff accompany students to their interviews, first day of work, and for transportation training.  Drop in visits occur at least weekly at first but then taper off to once every two weeks. An emphasis is placed on natural supports in the workplace wherever possible, but UI REACH staff do not provide job coaching for the entire shifts during the semester.  Career staff carry an on call phone for students and employers during internship hours and can respond in person if needed.

Every effort is made to match students’ strengths and interests to an appropriate internship. Internships may be limited by availability of sites. Possible internship areas may include, but are not limited to:

  • Adult Care
  • Animal Care
  • Clerical
  • Child Care
  • Health Care
  • Hospitality
  • Landscaping/ Outdoor Work
  • Marketing/ Retail

We ask that Year 1 and year 2 students do not have an outside job during the academic semester. Students are encouraged to have jobs or volunteer experiences back home during breaks from school.

To earn a career focus area students complete a 60 hour internship and a career seminar in that career focus area.

Career Seminars

Each spring semester, students take two career seminars.  Examples of career seminars include:

  • Education (childcare)
  • Skilled Trade
  • Information Technology
  • Culinary Arts
  • Business Support
  • Hospitality
  • Health Services
  • Human Services
  • Parks and Natural Resources
  • Retail and Marketing

Employment Advisory Council

An active Employment Advisory Council (EAC) comprised of volunteer employers and business people from Iowa meet regularly to offer guidance to the UI REACH Program regarding internships, curriculum, community awareness and marketing.

Post Program Collaboration

After program completion, alumni, their families, and employers have access to consultative services through UI REACH. These services will help alumni identify resources that will help them with career development and independent living.

EXTEND, is the family alumni association. The goal of the group is to keep families connected after their UI REACH experience through positive social networking.

Some Employers Partnering with UI REACH

The University of Iowa

  • Bookstore
  • Dining
  • Facilities Management and General Stores
  • Hawk Shop
  • Landscaping

Community Partnerships

  • City of Coralville Parks and Recreation
  • Handicare Child Care and Preschool
  • Hy-Vee
  • Iowa Cubs
  • Pathways Adult Day Health Center
  • Retail Stores (e.g., Target, Best Buy, & Olive Garden)
  • Sheraton Hotel
  • Veterans Affairs Medical Center
  • Wellmark

Meet alumnus Tanner Salinas and learn about how UI REACH helped him hit it out of the park.

Meet Jack Devlin and hear about his work with the Hawkeye basketball team.