Project SEARCH grads Image

Intensive internship program in Rhinelander hospital prepares people with disabilities for work

RHINELANDER, WI— Goodwill North Central Wisconsin (Goodwill NCW) celebrated the accomplishments of 5 interns who graduated from the Project SEARCH site at Aspirus Rhinelander Hospital on May 29. Goodwill NCW serves as the primary coordinator and service provider for the sites, alongside other collaborative partners and funders.

Project SEARCH is a nine-month internship program that prepares people with disabilities to enter the workforce. The international program has a local presence in Rhinelander, thanks to partnerships with Aspirus Health, Goodwill NCW, the School District of Rhinelander, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development – Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, TMG, Lakeland Care and Inclusa. The program is built to provide direct experience that is transferrable to jobs and culminates in a graduation ceremony, after which participants seek employment in the community.

“Everyone deserves the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential; Project SEARCH provides an incredibly effective way to do just that. Goodwill NCW is proud of the interns who worked hard to build their skills to secure employment and improve their financial stability,” Kayla Countney, Manager of Mission Relations at Goodwill NCW said. “We are thankful to our partners in the Rhinelander community that make the program possible. Together we are committed to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities.”

Speaking about Project SEARCH grads poised for jobs


The Rhinelander Project SEARCH program is a hybrid site, welcoming students referred to the program by local school districts as well as adults enrolled with the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. While participating in Project SEARCH, the interns rotate through various departments within the hospital to gain hands-on skills that will help them in their future employment.

For Andrea, a 2024 graduate of the Rhinelander site, Project SEARCH is a starting point for future work. “My favorite part of Project SEARCH is trying out for the first time what it’s like to have a real job.”

The hospital setting provides a variety of different job experiences. Interns may help the facilities team, the gift shop, the cafeteria or the nursing staff. Internationally, 73.6% percent of those who participated in Project SEARCH in 2021-22 secured employment after completing the program.

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