Register for Spring Career Fair

The 2021 Spring Career Fair is happening virtually on the Handshake platform on January 27, 2021 from 12-5pm.

Students are required to register for both the fair and for the individual or group sessions with their desired employers. Make sure to register for the Spring Career Fair to connect with employers recruiting across a broad range of disciplines!

For more information, visit OSU’s Career Fair website.

Meet Matt – Student Nutrition Aide at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Matt came to TOPS with a great work experience that he wanted to continue building on as long as he was in a position making a difference and helping others. Matt shadowed the Nutrition Aide department in Spring 2020 to learn more about the role and decided he would love to work for them. He was supposed to start this summer but with COVID, things were pushed back. Matt joined the Nutrition Aide team this month – he loves shadowing and trying the tasks so far. He will be responsible for delivering meals to patients, taking meal orders, and following specific dietary guidelines if a patient has certain restrictions. Matt is excited to have the opportunity to help patients during their recovery through nutrition!

Image of Matt in a white shirt, gray and red tie, and a blue surgical mask posing for his first day of work.

Patient Transportation Embraces All: An “Inclusive” Look Behind the Scenes

Ben and his two supervisors smiling in front of a patient transportation cart. They are holding a red sign that says "Inclusiveness"

When you ask 23-year-old Ben Walter how he’s doing, you get a cheerful, “Good, very busy!”

Each day, Ben rounds up dozens of wheelchairs, motorized stretchers and gurneys from all parts of The James – and makes sure they’re clean and ready to roll.

Ben is the one and only general services assistant in the Patient Transportation Department at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. He earned this newly created job title after working hard in the TOPS Program at the Nisonger Center, which offers unique study and employment opportunities for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Ben takes great pride in his work,” says his supervisor, John Roese, Patient Transportation. “He’s full of energy. He loves to talk with people and connect with others.”

Actually, John is a relationship-builder too ─ in the way he partners with Ben and supervises his team.

“John changes the atmosphere in a positive way ─ with his spirituality, adaptability and empathy. He’s an amazing listener, says Shelly Martin, assistant director of Patient Transportation. “We knew he would be adept at helping Ben succeed in this new position.”

Shelly and John embrace the core value of inclusiveness as they manage Ben and the rest of the Patient Transportation team.

“We are committed to inclusion and efforts to support everyone,” Shelly says.

Within the Patient Transportation Department, team members of different ages, abilities, genders and cultural backgrounds work toward the same goal: safe, timely transportation of patients.

Diverse team performs vital work 

The Patient Transportation Department is vital for the smooth operation of the hospital and for providing a pleasant customer service experience.

“It’s very important work that we do,” Shelly says. “Our team members transport patients throughout the entire health system, everywhere except outpatient facilities and OSU East. We know how to get from points A to B efficiently.”

Meanwhile, John supervises the Patient Transportation storekeepers ─ Ben, plus five others. They collect abandoned wheelchairs and equipment, easily walking 10 miles a day through hospital tunnels, crossovers and parking garages. They make sure everything is sanitized, powered up and functioning properly ─ essential work that could easily be taken for granted.

“Our storekeepers do their part to make sure there are no delays in patient care,” John explains. “Sometimes their work goes unnoticed. You just expect wheelchairs and stretchers to magically appear and be there, but you don’t see the behind-the-scenes people who make it happen.”

Naturally, wheelchairs and gurneys are hot commodities around here. So each morning, Ben assesses the equipment supply in the storage room and helps line up wheelchairs at the entrance for people arriving at The James.

Next, he meticulously checks the floors for left-behind equipment, which will be needed throughout the day for transporting patients to surgeries, X-rays and other procedures.

“To help Ben keep track of what he’s doing, his coaches created a special list on a dry erase card,” explains John. “After he collects equipment from one floor, he checks it off, and then hits the next floor, working his way down.”

“It’s a lot of walking,” Ben says with a laugh.

Being differently abled doesn’t stop people from working in Patient Transportation.

“Everyone deserves a chance. We’ll work a strategy to make people successful ─ through accommodations or resources,” John says. “Ben and I talk throughout the day. I make sure his needs are met, and we work hard to get the job done. We’re glad he’s here.”

Break down barriers ─ why not? 

By tackling his job each day, Ben breaks down barriers and brings awareness to others that differently abled people can perform many types of roles.

“Ben shows great courage in just being here,” Shelly says. “At first, people may not understand, but he takes us through the learning process of how we can accept and appreciate people of all intellectual and physical abilities.”

Whenever reasonably possible, Shelly does her best to be inclusive and support her team members dealing with other life issues, too.

“For example, we try to make accommodations for people who have visual challenges due to age. We try to accommodate women after childbirth who face nursing challenges and single parents who need to adjust their schedules to care for children,” Shelly explains. “We even incorporate shoes into our uniform budget so our staff (who walk 7-10 miles a day) can afford shoes.”

When someone has a challenging request or situation, Shelly, John and the rest of the leadership team first ask themselves, “Why not?”

“Let’s figure out how we can do this,” Shelly explains. “And if there’s a good reason we can’t, that’s fine. But before we say no, we always ask, ‘Why not?’”

Being inclusive pays big dividends for everyone.

“When we treat people with respect and fairness, they have that sense of belonging and can be an equal team member,” Shelly says. “They come to work with joy and passion for their work.”

Grateful for the opportunity

As for Ben, he’s thrilled to work in health care. His mother was a physical therapist, and this job helps him proudly follow in her footsteps.

After a long shift of checking floors and gathering up wheelchairs and transportation equipment, Ben feels like he’s making a contribution.

“I feel good because I’m helping people. I help my co-workers because they don’t have to find the gurneys and clean them,” explains Ben.

And by providing wheelchairs, Ben helps our patients, too.

“I make the patients’ days a little easier,” he says. “Patients are dealing with a lot of stress, and sometimes life and death stuff. I know how they feel. And this is how I can help them.”

Quick Facts About Patient Transportation 

  • We have approximately 70 transport staff members (and we’re training more).
  • Our team performs approximately 700 patient transports daily.
  • We have approximately 400 wheelchairs (and can always use more).
  • It’s not unusual for team members to walk 7-10 miles a day, transporting patients and collecting equipment.
  • We’ve tracked down our wheelchairs in parking garages, downtown alleys, at Goodwill and even as far away as West Virginia.

This article is part of a series describing how Ohio State faculty and staff are leading the way by embodying the Buckeye Spirit in everything they do through shared values of empathy, ownership, inclusiveness, determination, innovation and sincerity. 

Source: “Patient Transportation Embraces All: An ‘Inclusive’ Look Behind the Scenes.” HealthBeat HUB, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, 10 June 2020,

Meet Hunter – Cycle Counter at Amazon

Hunter started working full-time at Amazon after finishing the TOPS Program in May 2020. He started as an Inbound Stower where he was responsible for storing merchandise in assorted size bins that will be pulled for fulfilment of orders. He had to make sure to inspect all items for damages and used an RF gun to scan them to make sure inventory locations were accurate. He recently got to start as a Cycle Counter to ensure accurate physical inventory of Amazon supplies. Hunter loves that the job keeps him busy and helps him make and save money! We are so proud of you, Hunter!

Hunter is giving a thumbs up and wearing his Amazon mask for work.

On Top of the World: Meet Austin!


More than anything, Austin Shirk wanted to be a Buckeye.

Austin putting a sterilization rack back on the belt in Central Sterile Supplyl

From his home in Allen, Texas, he’d cheer for the football team alongside his parents, Dina ’88 and Dave ’92, and he often went to games when visiting Ohio relatives. As he grew up, he dreamed of taking college classes at Ohio State, making new friends and finding a good job.

But his prospects for higher education seemed remote to Austin and his parents. Austin is among millions of people in this country with an intellectual or developmental disability, less than a quarter of whom go on to college after finishing high school, according to Think College, a national nonprofit working to raise that percentage.

As for finding a good job, “We were having a heck of a time getting anyone to give Austin a chance in Texas,” Dina said. Though her son enrolled in independent living and job training programs, they didn’t lead to jobs. Instead, he languished on waiting lists.

If local programs could not help Austin, the Shirks decided, then they would move on. They began searching for an alternative and could hardly believe it when their quest led to their alma mater.

Ohio State had created a program in 2011 called Transition Options in Postsecondary Settings, or TOPS, to provide personalized support to students with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The program is designed for students who want to learn life skills and find a job that matches their abilities and talents — all while experiencing the university’s vibrant academic and social life.

Austin had a chance to be a Buckeye.

He couldn’t fill out the TOPS application fast enough, and the Shirks waited nervously for the call. Then it came: He was in. “It was a big accomplishment, a big step to get into TOPS,” Austin said.

A world of firsts awaited Austin when he arrived in Columbus in 2014. While he was excited to be on campus, it was a big adjustment, and he would be living in his own apartment for the first time. Austin, who loved auditing classes with more “typical” Ohio State students, discovered a special interest he didn’t know of: “I enjoyed earth sciences, especially the lectures, labs and hands-on activities,” he said.

Based on that, his job coaches found him internships with the Nisonger Center Dental Program and a private dental clinic in Columbus, where he assembled instrumentation trays and sterilized equipment.

After completing the TOPS program in 2016, Austin went to work at the Wexner Medical Center where he supports the Central Sterile Supply department. His position pays a fair-market wage with full benefits, including retirement benefits and health insurance. “I love my job,” he said. “It’s worth going through the [challenges that accompany] being in TOPS.”

His manager, Jen Smith, is similarly delighted.

“Austin is so eager to learn new tasks, and he gets along with everyone,” Smith said. “I’ve never seen one human being get along so well with everyone.” It’s not just that Austin is nice; his contributions make the entire team more effective. “He can handle tasks that were taking our clinical staff away from production,” said Smith, who hopes to create another job with TOPS. “We would have two of Austin if we could.”

In helping students find their way as young adults, TOPS changes lives for entire families.

“I am so excited about Austin’s job,” Dina Shirk said. “When we got his diagnosis at age 10, the doctor said, ‘If I were you, I would teach him a few things and forget everything else.’ We never went back to him, and Austin has so exceeded those expectations.”

Source: MacLellan, Erin. “On Top of the World.” The Ohio State University Alumni Association, Ohio State Alumni Magazine, 2017,


Ohio State recognized with Employer Partners of Inclusion Platinum Award

Ohio State has been recognized for our commitment to the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the workplace, and for being a leader of diversity and inclusion best practices in Ohio.

Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) has awarded Ohio State with a 2020 Employer Partners of Inclusion Platinum Award, which honors employers who have hired at least five OOD job seekers in the one-year evaluation period and met specific criteria that demonstrates their level of diversity and inclusion practices.

“Creating a diverse and inclusive culture where every individual is valued and can contribute is the foundation for a productive, gratifying workplace,” Susan Basso, senior vice president for talent, culture and human resources, said. “We appreciate our partnership with OOD and are proud to be recognized for our commitment to providing a positive workplace culture for all employees.”

Ohio State has been honored for the fourth consecutive year for dedication to the OOD partnership and continuous hiring and support of OOD candidates. In addition, Ohio State’s partnership with OOD includes a full-time talent sourcing coordinator on the Human Resources talent team and facilitates the hiring of many OOD candidates across all campuses and the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center.

Ohio State was also recognized in 2017, 2018 and 2019 for creating a culture which encourages the support and advancement of employees with disabilities.

Read more on the OOD website.

Article Source: “Ohio State Recognized with Employer Partners of Inclusion Platinum Award.” Human Resources: Appreciation, Awards and Recognition, HR Connection, 2 Oct. 2020,

Disability Etiquette

As the baby-boomer population ages and continues employment, the prevalence of disability management in the workplace continues to be a significant issue for employers. Disability management should include etiquette strategies that foster inclusion of people with disabilities in employment settings. Appropriate disability etiquette allows all employees to be more comfortable and productive. For employers wanting to successfully integrate people with disabilities into their organizations, the following etiquette strategies may be useful.

Cartoon image of individuals with varying disabilities with the words DISABILITY ETIQUETTE above them.

Recruitment Etiquette

People with disabilities continue to be the most unemployed and underemployed population in the United States. They represent an untapped labor pool offering valuable skills, qualifications, and assets for employers. Several recruitment strategies can increase an organization’s access to potential applicants.

  • Post job openings with local disability organizations and college and university career centers. Advertise vacancies within disability-related publications, websites, and job fairs.
  • Include details about the job location in all postings and highlight accessible features of the location, if appropriate.
  • Indicate the availability of flexible working conditions, including telecommuting or flexible scheduling.
  • Only include qualifications in job postings that are actually required for the available position. Require equal qualifications of all job applicants, regardless of disability.
  • Advertise the organization as an equal opportunity employer.
  • Establish internship and mentoring programs targeted towards youth with disabilities.

Interview Etiquette

Scheduling the Interview

  • Let applicants know accommodations can be provided upon request and who to contact for more information.
  • Schedule interviews at an accessible location. If the workplace is inaccessible, be prepared to conduct the interview at an alternate accessible location.
  • Be familiar with travel directions to the interview location, including the path of travel into the building.
  • Notify applicants in advance with the names of all interview participants.
  • Be aware that an applicant with a disability may need to arrange for transportation following the interview. Provide the applicant with an estimate of interview duration and expected end time, if requested.

Greeting the Interviewee

  • Be aware of the interview location’s accessible features including restrooms, drinking fountains, and telephones.
  • Use a normal tone of voice when welcoming the interviewee. Only raise your voice upon request.
  • Call the person by his first name only when extending similar familiarity to other interviewees.
  • Always introduce yourself and other interview participants. Offer to shake hands, if appropriate.
  • Speak directly to the interviewee instead of any companion, personal attendant, or interpreter, when greeting the person for the interview.


  • Always ask similar questions of all interviewees, regardless of disability. Conduct the interview emphasizing abilities, achievements, and interviewee qualities.
  • Treat all interviewees with respect.
  • Select an interview location with adequate lighting.
  • Speak directly to the interviewee instead of any companion, personal attendant, or interpreter throughout the meeting.

New Employee Etiquette

  • Review physical features of the work environment. If any create potential barriers for new employees with disabilities, make adjustments as necessary.
  • Identify assistive technologies available to increase workplace accessibility.
  • Provide alternate formats (e.g., large print, Braille) of all necessary work-related documents including benefits information, employee manuals and policies, and professional development materials, as needed.
  • Prepare co-workers and supervisors for the arrival of a new employee with a disability, when appropriate. This preparation can include training and orientation to disability-specific issues. Such training should not be used to single-out the person with the disability. An overall disability awareness initiative is best.
  • Remember to include employees with disabilities in emergency evacuation planning and procedures.

Workplace Etiquette: Mobility, Sensory, Cognitive, and Psychiatric Impairments

The following etiquette tips address a wide range of workplace situations involving employees with motor or mobility impairments, sensory impairments, and cognitive or psychiatric impairments. This publication is not a comprehensive guide to disability etiquette in the workplace. For more information about disability etiquette, see the resources listed at the end of this document.

Individuals with Mobility Impairments

  • Do not make assumptions about limitations based on appearance or the use of assistive devices. For example, individuals who use mobility aids such as canes, walkers, or wheelchairs have different limitations and may use a mobility aid regularly or only as required by their limitations on a daily basis. Also, people who appear to be mobile may require accommodations such as accessible parking because they are unable to walk long distances due to a medical impairment (e.g., a person with asthma or a heart condition).
  • Do not touch or lean on a wheelchair, move a person’s walker or cane without being asked, or pet or distract a service animal without first asking the individual with the disability if it is okay. A wheelchair, mobility aid, or service animal is part of an individual’s personal space; an extension of that individual.
  • Be aware of the worksite and its accessible and inaccessible elements. Upon hiring a person who has an obvious mobility impairment, offer to provide a tour and evaluate the worksite for accessibility.
  • Make workplace accessibility changes according to the specific work-related needs of the employee (e.g., making workspace modifications, keeping paths clear, and positioning items at appropriate reach heights, etc.).
  • Keep disability etiquette in mind when planning work-related social events or training opportunities. Host events at accessible locations and design activities that include all employees.
  • Ask whether a person needs assistance before you help. Extend the same courtesies to individuals with disabilities as you would others. Do not be afraid to ask how you can help.
  • Sit down when speaking for more than a few minutes with a person who uses a wheelchair so you are at eye level.
  • Be careful about the language you use. For example, people who use wheelchairs or scooters are not confined or bound to them. The wheelchair enables the person to get where he/she needs to go. It does not confine the person.

Individuals with Vision Impairments

  • Be familiar with the route of travel to the interview location. Provide descriptive directions that do not require the person to rely on visual references. When appropriate, note if Braille signage is posted on walls and doors.
  • Verbally greet and identify yourself before extending your hand to greet a person who is blind. Use the same courtesy when entering or leaving a room, or saying good bye when ending a conversation. Do not just walk away when talking with a person who is blind or visually impaired.
  • Offer your arm instead of taking the arm of a person who is blind or visually impaired when guiding the person. As you walk, tell the person where you are going, make note of steps or slopes, and point-out opening doors or other obstacles.
  • Offer new employees a guided tour of the workplace.
  • Do not pet or distract a guide dog. When walking along-side someone who is using a guide dog, walk on the side opposite the animal.
  • Offer to read written information, when appropriate, during an interview or on the job.
  • Inform an employee who is blind or visually impaired of structural changes or hazards he may need to be aware of in the event of new construction or workplace modifications.
  • Provide work-related materials, such as employee handbooks or benefits information, in an accessible format (e.g., large print, Braille, or accessible web page accessed with a screen reader).

Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

  • Be aware that individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing communicate in various ways. Pay attention to cues such as whether the person uses sign language, is reading lips, writing, or gesturing. Do not be afraid say that you do not understand if you have trouble understanding the person’s speech. It is better to find another way to communicate, such as through writing notes, than to pretend to understand.
  • Do not put hands in front of your face, or food or other items in your mouth when communicating with someone who is reading lips. Also, do not turn your head or walk away while talking. When possible, speak in a well-lit room that is free from background noises.
  • Maintain eye contact and direct your communication to the person who is deaf when using a sign-language interpreter.
  • Speak using a normal tone of voice unless asked to raise your voice, and rephrase rather than repeat the same words if you are not understood.
  • Take turns when talking during a meeting so the person who is deaf or hard of hearing can read lips if they are able to.
  • Get the attention of a person who is deaf or hard of hearing before you start speaking by waiving your hand, tapping her on the shoulder, or through some other appropriate gesture.
  • Talk with the individual about his preferred method of communication for job training or complex work-related situations. When appropriate, provide a qualified sign-language interpreter, CART service, or training videos that are captioned.
  • Remember to include employees who are deaf or hard of hearing in casual conversation and social events. Provide a sign-language interpreter for employer-sponsored social events, when appropriate.

Individuals with Speech Impairments

  • Be patient and listen. Do not complete words or sentences for the individual. Do not be afraid to say you do not understand. Ask him to repeat and then listen carefully. Repeat what you heard to verify. Or, ask him to write it down.
  • Be attentive in your mannerisms by maintaining conversational eye contact and focusing on the content of communication rather than the delivery of the communication.
  • Relax and communicate as you would normally.
  • Provide interview questions in advance, if possible, to allow the individual time to prepare and deliver responses effectively.
  • Consider offering a personal interview as an alternative to a phone interview for people who stutter.

Individuals with Respiratory Impairments or Chemical Sensitivities

  • Be aware that products that are commonly used in the workplace (e.g., air fresheners, cleaning products, markers) can trigger a reaction for someone who has a respiratory or chemical sensitivity. Use less toxic products when possible.
  • Encourage employees to use fragrance-free products, and discontinue wearing fragrances and colognes in the workplace. Do not wear fragrances and colognes when interviewing new employees. Fragrances, colognes, and fragranced personal products can make some people very ill.
  • Make a commitment to maintaining good ventilation and indoor air quality. This can benefit all employees.
  • Do not make assumptions based upon appearance. For example, a person with asthma may not appear to be limited, but may need accessible parking because she is not able to walk long distances or be in the cold or humidity for long periods of time.

Individuals with Psychiatric Impairments

  • Avoid stereotypes and assumptions about the individual and how she may interact with others. In most cases, it will not be obvious that someone has a psychiatric impairment.
  • Recognize and respect the differences in people. People with psychiatric impairments may behave differently than other individuals, may have trouble interpreting social cues, or may have different ways of coping with their impairment.
  • Respect personal space and do not touch the individual or his personal belongings.
  • Provide support and assistance, as appropriate.
  • Be patient. Allow the individual time to think and answer questions independently.

Individuals with Cognitive Impairments

  • Do not assume that because someone has a cognitive impairment, such as a learning disability, that she has below-average intelligence. The individual may have above-average intelligence, but may have difficulty receiving, expressing, or processing information.
  • Ask the person if he prefers verbal, written, or hands-on instruction, or a combination of methods in training and work-related situations. For example, if providing verbal instructions, it may be helpful to follow-up with an e-mail that clarifies your request.
  • Treat the individual as an adult. Speak directly to the individual, rather than his/her companion, and use words and phrases according to his or her level of complexity.
  • Be patient. Allow the individual time to think and answer questions independently.

Article Source: “Disability Etiquette.” Job Accommodation Network, 2020,


Internship and Employment Planning amidst COVID-19

As we are planning for our return to campus later this month, we have reached out to internship and employer partners to determine if they are able to host interns/student employees (and created a few new partnerships!). We have found that a lot of our partners are closed or not able to have interns or volunteers at this time (and some will not allow interns until a vaccine is available).

Families and students – please let us know your comfortability and any restrictions you may have with interning/working this upcoming semester should something be available. Students would be expected to follow any protocols/procedures put in place by the work site.

We will do our best to place students in work experiences as we understand this is an important component of the program and appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate these difficult times. In addition to interning, students are able to gain career development hours through activities such as:

  • Career Advising Meetings
  • Career Research and Exploration (maybe virtual informational interviews, career videos, etc. as well??)
  • Resume and Cover Letter Development/Updates
  • Job Search and Practice Applications
  • Career Fair Preparation and Attendance
  • Creating accounts for and exploring job search engines (e.g. Handshake, AlumniFire, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Interview Preparation and Practice
  • Soft Skills Activities (e.g. teamwork, communication, networking, problem-solving, professionalism, etc.)
  • Online Trainings – Microsoft, LinkedIn, OMJ
  • Buckeye OnPACE Career Modules
  • OMJ Practice Interview Center
  • Getting involved in OSU virtual career opportunities

Please reach out to Ashlee Leslie ( or Patty Conkey ( regarding questions, your comfortability with returning to work and/or any restrictions you may have.