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ICAN Career Fair Shows Employers Neurodivergent Candidates Can Do

Armed with strong resumes and stronger resolve, more than 200 Beacon College students converged at the inaugural ICAN 2024 (Internship Careers and Neurodiversity) fair in April with a shared goal: convincing potential employers that neuro-diversifying their workforces adds value.

Conceived by Beacon’s Juan and Lisa Jones Center for Career Preparation, the internship and early career event held at the Venetian Center in Leesburg, Florida was specifically designed for collegians who learn differently and employers eager to field an inclusive workforce that includes neurodiverse talent. ICAN drew more than 200 students from all classifications.

“ICAN 2024 will change the landscape of opportunities for Beacon’s neurodiverse college students as they connect with more than 30 employer partners from national and local companies traveling to Central Florida for this event,” explained Melissa Bradley, director of Beacon’s Juan and Lisa Jones Center for Career Preparation. “Neurodiverse students participate in this professional networking event that engages them with employers as they prepare to launch internships and careers after graduation.”

Student Attendees









With a uniquely neurodivergent nod, ICAN 2024 provided services and resources unlike traditional career fairs. For instance, Beacon learning specialists doubled as “success coaches,” roaming the venue to support student/employer engagement. For students who needed a private space to process before later reconnecting with recruiters, the onsite “ZEN Den” provided refuge.

In addition, ICAN 2024 was designed to shatter barriers and reduce anxiety often associated with large-scale “convention center” type events. In doing so, Beacon empowers students and likely boosts their participation in networking events elsewhere.

Perhaps more groundbreaking, employers shared about workplace accommodations for candidates with learning and attention difficulties — which is a key but private “fear factor” that leads many neurodivergent individuals to not disclose.

ICAN 2024 featured an impressive lineup of national, regional, and local employers:

  • AmeriCorps
  • CAI Neurodiverse Solutions
  • CareerSource Central Florida
  • Easterseals Florida
  • Early Learning Coalition
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Hyde
  • KPMG
  • Lake County Animal Shelter
  • Lake County Library System
  • Lake County Schools
  • Leesburg Center for the Arts
  • Leesburg Police Department
  • LifeStream Behavioral Center
  • Marriott International Hotels
  • Mission Inn Resort + Club (MMI)
  • New Vision for Independence
  • Oracle
  • Orlando ABA
  • Rangam SourceAbled
  • Senior Resource Alliance
  • Sodexo
  • The Little Star Network Inc.
  • UF Health
  • United Arts of Central Florida
  • United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties

Meanwhile, as students were dreaming of future employment, ICAN 2024 offered Beacon students an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the latest professional development solutions for students and alumni. That included the launch Beacon’s Career Closet 2.0 powered by Hyde. The Career Closet 2.0 offers professional wear for college interns and early career-seekers on a limited budget.

Additionally, students and alumni enjoyed Kodak moments thanks to express professional headshots and access to Big Interview, an AI online interview practice training system to help better prepare Beacon students for job interviews at any stage in their career journey.

In the end, Bradley said the ICAN exists to “help our students engage in opportunities that encourage them to practice, stretch and even challenge their abilities to explore/uncover talent pipelines and career pathways,” she said. “We also hope to upskill their engagement and meet them where they’re at in a supportive environment that Beacon champions every day.”

ICAN 2025

Interested in learning more about opportunities at ICAN 2025? Want to connect your company with our neurodivergent students? Contact Melissa Bradley at mbradley@beaconcollege.edu.