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

In 2022, Nationwide Children’s employed 4 out of 5 Project SEARCH interns at the completion of the program!

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.

Applications for the 2024-2025 school year are due Feb. 16, 2024.

To learn more about Nationwide’s Project SEARCH and the application process, please contact the Educational Service Center at or attend one of our upcoming information sessions and tours. Information regarding upcoming sessions and tours is available in the "Upcoming Information Sessions" tab on this page.

Upcoming Information Sessions & Tours

Information Sessions:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023 - 5:30 p.m.


  • Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023 - 10 a.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 8, 2023 - 10 a.m.
  • Friday, Jan. 12, 2024 - 10 a.m.

Information sessions and tours take place at the Nationwide Children's Hospital Behavioral Health Pavilion. Parking is available in the Yellow Garage.

Please register in advance for information sessions and tours.

Register Now


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 is housed within the Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion, however, internship work sites within the program vary. Previous internship locations within Nationwide Children’s include: Radiology, Urology, Clinical Therapies, Clinical Research Services, Environmental Services, Outpatient Psychiatry and Nutrition Services.

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

Frequently Asked Questions 

How will applicants be chosen?

For the application:

The Nationwide Children’s Project SEARCH applications are due Feb. 17, 2023. Eight Project SEARCH interns will be selected for the 2023-2024 program. 

For interviews and skills assessments:

Applicants will be contacted immediately after their application is initially reviewed for meeting the basic requirements to be considered for the program.  Applicants will be given information on how to do their interview (pre-recorded). In addition, the applicants will receive a list of five tasks to demonstrate for the Skills Assessment. The applicant will choose three of the five tasks to demonstrate. Someone will video the applicant performing the task and that video will be sent to the selection committee. 

Do I need my school district’s approval to submit a Nationwide Children’s Project SEARCH application?

When you submit the Nationwide Children’s Project SEARCH application, you will need your school district’s approval as they are part of your IEP team and this is an educational service for students with disabilities who have IEPs. The school district will need to support the student attending the Nationwide Children’s Project SEARCH program both educationally and financially. There is a fee for the program. Your school district will collaborate and assist you with the Project SEARCH application and interview process. Your transition coordinator will probably be the main person to guide you through the Project SEARCH application process.

How will my student get to Nationwide Children’s Project SEARCH?

If your student is accepted, then your school district will work with you on arranging appropriate transportation to the Big Lots Behavioral Health Pavilion at Nationwide Children’s.

My student and others gets a free and reduced lunch at school now. Will he/she get one at Nationwide Children’s Project SEARCH?

The school district and Nationwide Children’s Project SEARCH team will collaborate with the hospital to make lunch available for your student.

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