CEO Mentor Application is Open!
Competitive Employment Opportunities (CEO) seeks professionals who want to share their passion for their work with a DCPS high school student. CEO is a manageable commitment for mentors that makes a meaningful impact for students. Apply today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the CEO Program?

Competitive Employment Opportunities (CEO) is a mentorship/internship program for high school students with disabilities. From January to June, students undergo after-school professional developments and mentoring sessions, 16 sessions in total. Professional developments occur twice per month; students spend these eight sessions learning self-advocacy, conflict resolution, personal finance, netiquette, and other professional skills. Every student in the CEO Program is paired with a mentor who works in a career field of interest to that student. Over the course of eight mentoring sessions, which also occur twice per month, students collaborate with their mentors to create a project that focuses on the student’s career of interest. Students present these projects in June. Every student who successfully completes the professional development and mentoring series is then eligible for an 80-hour summertime internship at their mentor’s place of employment.

The program has three basic parts, and student-interns are expected to fulfill each:

  • Professional Developments: From January to June, students attend professional developments every other week. These take place after school at DC Public Schools’ Central Office.
  • Career-Focused Project Sessions with Mentors: From February to June, students attend mentoring sessions. These also occur at DCPS Central Office and are also every other week. Each student collaborates with their mentor on a project that reflects the work in their field of interest. Students present this project in June.
  • 80-hour Summer Internship: Students who successfully complete the Professional Development and Career-Focused Project series are eligible for an 80-hour summertime internship. The internship takes place at the mentor’s place of employment.

Who interns with the CEO program?

Students who have demonstrated a strong desire to learn more about their career field of interest through professional development training, career mentoring, and a paid internship are selected to intern with the CEO Program. All CEO participants have been recommended by faculty members at their respective schools. They have also written compelling responses to short-answer questions on the program application, and they have represented themselves professionally at a panel interview. All CEO interns must:

  • Enrolled as a DCPS high school student, up to age 22
  • Have a documented disability, per an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan
  • Demonstrate consistent, timely school attendance
  • Be pursuing a Diploma, as reflected in the IEP Diploma Decision Status
  • Agree and adhere to the CEO student contract and code of conduct
  • Be able to utilize public transportation to travel to and from program activities (free travel training is provided)
  • Express desire to engage in career training

Who does the CEO Program partner with?

DC Public Schools works with a diverse array of partners in order to provide meaningful experiences for CEO Program interns. Recent CEO Program partners include: NASA, Northrop Grumman, Architect of the Capitol, Miller & Long and many others. Please visit the CEO Program partners page to see the full list.

Is the CEO Program free for mentors and partner organizations?

Yes, the CEO Program is free for mentors and partner organizations. There is no monetary cost to participate, as interns are paid through a partnership between DC Public Schools and DC Department on Disability Services, Rehabilitation Services Administration. The mentors and partner organization are not required to compensate the CEO interns during the 80-hour summer internship because the interns are paid through a partnership.

When does the CEO Program take place?

CEO Program mentors meet with students twice a month from January to June to work on career focused projects. Career focused project sessions take place on either Tuesdays or Thursdays from 4:30pm – 6:00pm. All sessions take place in person at DCPS Central Office. Internships take place in the summer and generally run for 80 hours from June through August, on a flexible schedule to be determined by interns and their mentors.

Where are the professional developments and career focus project sessions held?

Professional developments and career focused project sessions are held in person at DC Public Schools’ Central Office 1200 First Street NE Washington, DC 20002. Virtual and hybrid sessions are not available.

What is the career focused project?

The career focused project is a project that demonstrates knowledge and skills necessary for success in an interns career field of interest. The focus of each project is determined by the intern and mentor during the first two career focused project sessions. CEO Program staff are available to assist with project ideas if necessary.

Could you please give me an example of a career focused project?

Of course. Below are five examples of excellent projects from previous years.

  • Mentor Organization: Architect of the Capitol / Project: Intern created a 3-D design of a music studio
  • Mentor Organization: NASA / Project: Intern gave a presentation on the landing of the Mars Rover
  • Mentor Organization: HSC / Project: Intern researched and gave a talk on Diabetes
  • Mentor Organization: Advisory Board / Project: Interns created business plan for a non-profit
  • Mentor Organization: Northrop Grumman / Project: Intern presented the steps to become an engineer

Who do I contact for more information about the CEO program?

Contact our CEO program coordinator, Anna Schneid at