Michigan State University main website

Applications for the 2020-2021 school year are now closed. Applications for the 2021-2022 school year will open at the end of 2020.

Application Process

Project SEARCH serves students with significant intellectual and developmental disabilities. Typically, these are students who are on an Individual Education Program (IEP) and in their last year of high school eligibility.  Details of Project SEARCH’s application process are listed below.


Application Purpose & Guidelines

The purpose of this application packet is to outline the skill set of the Spartan Project SEARCH student candidate. This application enables the selection committee to properly assess each student candidate’s interests, skills, abilities and background. A parent, student, counselor, teacher or employer may be contacted by the selection committee to gather additional information. Our goal is to select students who will be successful in a Spartan Project SEARCH program and reach the outcome of competitive employment.

The Selection Process includes the following guidelines

  1. All students are encouraged to attend an Open House and must visit the host business site to observe the culture, possible rotations and meet the instructor and job coaches prior to being selected to participate in Project SEARCH.
  2. Submit the completed application to the address on your cover letter by the date listed on the paper application.
  3. The Selection Committee will review the applications, and if accepted, match the student skill set and interests with the appropriate Project SEARCH internship(s) site (Michigan State University or the State of Michigan in downtown Lansing.)
  4. If accepted, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) will be developed with the IEP team.
  5. If accepted, students must pass a criminal background check and drug screen.

Please note

The Selection Committee will include the host site liaisons, the Project SEARCH Instructor, Project SEARCH job coaches, Project SEARCH school district liaison, Project SEARCH supervisors/managers and representatives from Michigan Rehabilitation Services and other agency/school representatives.

Order of selection will be

  1. Students who have finished their necessary credits for graduation or certificate of completion
  2. Students who will benefit from participation in a variety of internships
  3. Students who are interested in using public transportation to access work and the local community
  4. Students who desire to gain competitive employment at the end of the Project SEARCH program

Program Overview

Students attend the program for a full school year in the host business/hospital. The business provides access to an on-site classroom that can accommodate up to 12 students. The site is staffed by a special education teacher and one to three job coaches to meet the educational and training needs of the students.

  • Once the school year begins, the first few weeks of the program are focused on new employee orientation, hands-on skill assessment, and familiarization within the business environment. Students develop a career plan which guides the internship selection process and individualized job search.
  • Employment Skills Curriculum: Throughout the school year, the students work on employability and functional skills for approximately one hour of their day. Classroom activities are designed around these focus areas: Team Building, Getting Around your Workplace, Workplace Safety, Technology, Social Skills, Communication, Presentation Skills, Interviewing Skills, Money Management, Health and Wellness, Job Search Skills and Keeping a Job.
  • Internships/Worksite Rotations: Through a series of three targeted internships the students acquire competitive, marketable and transferable skills to enable them to apply for a related position. Students also build communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills which is important to their overall development as a young worker. These are unpaid student work experiences-analogous to the clinical rotations that are part of every medical school or business internship program. Potential student worksites are identified through a continuous collaborative process involving the teacher, job coaches and business liaison. These internship rotations begin a few weeks after the start of the program. Students are required to interact with their supervisors via telephone and written communications to arrange a job interview to secure each rotation. A department mentor is identified at each site. The mentor interacts with the instructor, job coaches, and the student as a consistent source of guidance and feedback. Students spend approximately five hours each day at the internships including a thirty-minute lunch. Working from a task list, they acquire the core skills necessary to be hired in an entry-level position at the host business site or in the community. Job coaches and department staff collaborate to provide support for students. The Project SEARCH staff delivers the training and develops job accommodations and standard work procedures. Once the students master the core skills, additional skills are layered on to improve their marketability.

Job Placement and Community Connections

During the last few months of the program the emphasis is on refining skills, achieving the career goal, and carrying out individualized job placement. The Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor becomes an even more important part of the team as the job search process begins. Job development and placement occurs based on the student’s experiences, strengths, and skills. Linkages to appropriate services in the community are critical at this stage, as students prepare to graduate from the program, to ensure a successful transition to employment and adult life. Services are identified in the community that provide assistance with necessary adaptations required to perform a specific job, job coaching, and long-term follow along are arranged usually through the local Developmental Disability organization. . Upon satisfactory completion of the program (95% or better attendance, good attitude, successful skill acquisition at each job site) students receive a Career Portfolio. The contents of the packet will vary among replicated program sites, but generally the packets contain a resume, letters of recommendation, a competency profile, any awards or special recognition received while in the program.


Student Selection

Students are referred to the program through their schools, family member, or Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and apply in the winter and spring in the year prior to entering the program. A team representative of all the partners: Project SEARCH teacher, host business liaison, VR Counselor, community rehabilitation provider staff and other appropriate staff carry out the selection process which includes tours, student interviews, hands-on assessments at the host sites and scoring on a rubric related to entrance considerations.