Project SEARCH

Project SEARCH is an intensive 9-month internship program that provides training, education and workforce development for students with disabilities. The goal is to help prepare students for competitive, integrated employment.

The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Project SEARCH program is specially designed for Central Ohio students in their last year of high school who have Autism and/or Intellectual Disability with Complex Social and Communication Needs.

Program Benefits

Student interns:

  • Receive services in a supportive environment to prepare for employment
  • Acquire competitive, transferable and marketable job skills
  • Gain increased self-awareness, confidence, and independence

Eligibility & Application Process

Participants must be:

  • In last year of high school eligibility, having met all requirements
  • Diagnosed with Autism and/or Intellectual Disability with Complex Social and Communication Needs
  • Eligible for Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD)

Interested students must apply, and student interns are accepted through a selection committee process.

To learn more about Nationwide’s Project SEARCH and the application process, please contact the Educational Service Center at

What To Expect

  • Project SEARCH student interns will participate in daily group instruction and gain hands-on employment skills by rotating among three 10-week unpaid internships.
  • Managers at the internship sites partner together with the Project SEARCH instructor and skills trainers to support each student intern.
  • In this unique Project SEARCH program, all student interns, skills trainers, and departments will have access to an additional layer of support through Nationwide Children’s Hospital Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders (CASD).
  • The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Project SEARCH program will be housed at the new Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion starting in fall 2020. 
A Day In The Life of a Project SEARCH Intern
  • Arrive at the Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion
  • Group Instruction: Participation in lessons based on employability skills.
  • Internship Site: Participate in three 10-week onsite, non-paid internships.
  • Lunch
  • Internship Site: Return to internship department to continue learning job-specific skills.
  • Group Instruction: Reflect on the day and plan for the next
  • Depart

About Project SEARCH

The Project SEARCH site at Nationwide Children's Hospital is jointly funded by the Educational Services Center of Central Ohio (ESCCO), local education providers, and Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) and are further supported by county boards of developmental disabilities, business partners and OOD vocational rehabilitation service providers.

Project SEARCH was originally developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and is the administrative headquarters for the organization. Learn more about them at