COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — A new group of nearly a dozen interns began getting to work for the Howard County government Monday thanks to a partnership with Project SEARCH, an organization that helps young adults with developmental disabilities.

The county and Project SEARCH are teaming up for the sixth year to connect 11 students with internships in the government.

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“Project SEARCH is a high school transition program for adults with disabilities as they are preparing to leave the high school system, enter adult services and the workforce,” said the group’s manager, Natalie Dohner.

Monday was orientation day, so the eager interns spent the day getting their ID badges and learning how to log into their computers, but the real work will begin soon.

Over the course of a year, the interns will gain administrative, building and grounds and park maintenance experience.

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“We try to give them three different experiences throughout the year and see how we can apply that to employment after the program,” Dohner said.

Project SEARCH has helped former students gain skills and land jobs in a number of places, including within the county government.

The success of the program led Howard County Executive Calvin Ball to extend the partnership through 2022.

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“Everyone in our community can see that no matter what your ability is, if you have that opportunity, if you have that chance, you can succeed and you can excel,” he said.

Sean Streicher