RIT/NTID Honors Dow, ZVRS and Kresge as Outstanding Employers

Connecting students with employers has been a priority for Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf for more than 45 years.

Whether making a visit across the country to coach companies on how easy it can be to work with deaf employees or partnering with employers to provide 10-week co-ops that enable students to get real-world experience, RIT/NTID’s employer outreach efforts have resulted in a 93 percent employment rate within a year of graduation for RIT/NTID students who seek employment.

Three employers who have consistently hired students and graduates for co-ops or permanent jobs – Dow Chemical Company, ZVRS and the Kresge Hearing Research Institute – were recognized this year with an NTID Outstanding Employer Partner Award.

Dow Chemical Company has worked with NTID since 2009. Since then, three graduates have found full-time employment with the company, and 14 students completed 10-week co-ops. With majors such as lab science technology, computing and information science, business, professional and technical communication and engineering, the students and graduates were employed at Dow facilities in Michigan, Indiana, Texas and Pennsylvania.

In addition, over the past five years, Dow has brought 20 students from various majors to participate in a program at company headquarters in Midland, Mich., for senior managers, helping Dow leaders better understand the challenges and benefits of diversity within the corporate workplace. And a total of 110 Dow employees have attended five sessions of NTID’s workshop, “Working Together: Deaf and Hearing People.”

“This has been a great opportunity for Dow,” said Scott Wills, a Dow research scientist who worked directly with two NTID co-op students. “I’ve watched the students grow and I’ve watched my coworkers grow. It’s been fantastic. It’s brought an element of internal pride in how well we’ve worked together.”

ZVRS, a video relay service based in Clearwater, Fla., was recognized by NTID for the Outstanding Employer Partner award for small businesses. The company has 62 deaf and hard-of-hearing employees; about 50 are RIT/NTID alumni. The company has also twice sponsored The Next Big Idea competition at NTID, which encourages innovation and entrepreneurship among students.

“We’re very proud to be a part of the RIT/NTID community,” said Chris Wagner, a ZVRS senior vice president.

The third award was given to the University of Michigan’s Kresge Hearing Research Institute, in Ann Arbor, which began working with NTID in 1995. In the past five years, 11 RIT/NTID students have completed co-ops with Kresge.

The awards were given Oct. 10, when dozens of employers participated in NTID’s 13th annual Job Fair. Hundreds of students armed with resumes attended the fair, hoping to learn more about the businesses and available co-ops or permanent jobs that may fit their skills.

“These three employers have partnered with RIT/NTID in helping to achieve the mission of our college: to prepare qualified deaf and hard-of-hearing students for employment in an ever-changing global marketplace,” said NTID President Gerry Buckley. “We are very grateful to DOW, ZVRS and the Kresge Institute for all of their support.”

“It’s a pleasure to honor these three companies,” said NTID Center on Employment Director John Macko. “Their partnerships have led to many opportunities for our students.”

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