Project Search students holding plates

Project SEARCH is an internationally recognized employer-driven model that was developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC) in 1996. The Project SEARCH High School Transition model is for students with developmental cognitive disabilities in their last year of high school eligibility. Mayo Clinic Project SEARCH started in September 2015 in Rochester and is a partnership between the Rochester Public Schools, Mayo Clinic, Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Olmsted County Disability Services with supports from the Project SEARCH State Leadership Team.

Six to ten students in their final year of educational programming at the District will participate in a one-year academic program. Students will experience three 10-week unpaid internships. The hours of the program are approximately 7:30 AM - 3:00 PM. Interns will gain employability and specific work skills, and receive assistance with customized job searches. The outcome of Project SEARCH is competitive, integrated employment for each student intern.

Basic Eligibility Requirements:
  • 18 – 21 years old
  • Developmental Cognitive Disabilities 
  • Appropriate hygiene, social, and communication skills for the business
  • Ability to take direction and change behavior 
  • Independently utilize public transportation
  • Pass background checks, immunization check  
  • Accept diploma at end of year and obtain employment
  • Systematic instruction 
  • Learn competitive, marketable employment skills
  • 5 hours each day 
  • Develop specific work and employability skills
  • Three internships in a variety of settings 
  • Focus on productivity and quality 
  • Continual feedback & assessment from instructor, skills trainers, and Mayo Clinic staff

Contact us:

For additional information or questions on how to get involved, contact:

Nancy Joyce
Project SEARCH Instructor 
(507) 266-2339 | Email

Dawn Kirchner
Business Liaison, Host Business-Mayo Clinic
(507) 284-5048| Email


Central Services

Linen and Central Services Sterile Processing prepares and reprocesses reusable patient care items (i.e. equipment, instruments, utensils, etc.). Reprocessing may require reassembly, testing, and/or sterilization. The sterilization process requires stringent monitoring, documentation, and quality control. Central Services offers training opportunities at both St. Marys and the Rochester Methodist Hospital campuses. Interns are trained in cleaning, disinfecting, and testing reusable patient care equipment. They deliver patient care equipment to Nursing Units and assemble procedure trays used in clinical areas. 

Student Intern in blue hospital scrubs standing with books on a counter.

Charter House

For more than 30 years, Charter House has been the choice for those who value an active and independent lifestyle in the heart of downtown Rochester. It is the only senior living community owned and operated by the Mayo Clinic. As a leading full-service continuing care retirement community, it offers a wide range of resources to provide residents with pathways to healthy aging. Interns are busy vacuuming, sweeping, and dusting a number of the common areas throughout the building. Interns pride themselves on keeping the meeting rooms, library, art gallery, dining area, and various other public spaces safe and clean for the residents, guests, and staff. 

Student Intern vacuuming at the Charter House.

Comparative Medicine

Due to the highly regulated and controlled environment in Comparative Medicine, interns receive additional training and learn the protocols for preparing materials for use in research. Interns support investigators by filling water bottles in the barrier room, stocking supplies, sweeping and mopping holding rooms, distributing communication cards, operating the cage and tunnel wash, loading autoclave carts, and providing enrichments.
Student intern pushing a cart of containers in a medical setting

Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathology

The Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology (DLMP) is one of the world's largest and most sophisticated clinical laboratory and pathology departments. The department performs more than 20 million laboratory tests annually for more than 4,000 clients around the world. Terms such as “pucking”, “waterspidering”, and “racking”, describe daily responsibilities. Interns pick up lab specimens from lab stations, place vials onto a conveyor belt for automated sorting, and manually sort and scan specimens into the computer system. 

Student wearing a lab coat working in the department of laboratory medicine and pathology with a lab samples.

Environmental Services

Environmental Services is the “Face of Mayo”. This is the most visible of the internships. Hundreds of people pass every day while the interns are cleaning over 260,000 sq. ft. of the two main buildings on the Downtown Campus and the iconic Plummer Doors. Interns disinfect phones, waste receptacles, and drinking fountains. They operate the Chariot, a riding vacuum, in the subway hallways between buildings. Glass continues to be the interns’ “friend” as they clean multiple entry ways, stairways, and the curved glass above the atrium in the main Gonda area. Interns continue to discover additional areas to add to their routine as they provide patients and visitors a clean environment in which to walk and gather. 

Student intern cleaning plexi glass guard rail

Food Services

Food Services truly believes in The Power of Food. It is witnessed every day as it helps boost physical and emotional health for patients, hospital staff, and guests. Interns work in the Patient/Visitor Cafeteria and the Employee Cafeteria in the Eisenberg Building on the Methodist Hospital Campus. Interns work in the cold food preparation area and ingredient rooms. Interns learn menu items and serving techniques to present a healthy and delicious plate of food to patients and visitors. 

Student smiling from behind a cafeteria buffet counter

Health Sciences Research

The vision of Health Sciences Research is to enhance the understanding of health and human disease through cutting edge research that has direct translational implications for prevention, early detection, and treatment of patients. The main responsibility in the Health Sciences Research Internship is entering patient survey data for various cancer studies into a computer data base. Interns also prepare documents for scanning, tag surveys for patient identification, collate patient education materials, and assemble research blood kits. 

Student intern applying names and barcodes to patient health forms

Human Resources

Interns support Human Resources operations in the areas of Recruitment and Support Services. Interns scan/upload information and documents into electronic employee files; enter data for I-9s, name changes, and address changes; distribute mail; inventory office supplies; order background checks; and assemble recruitment packets. Interns gain skills in customer service while increasing their technical knowledge in several computer programs. 

Project Search Intern working with booklets as part of the HR Internship.

Linen Services

Linen Services moved to their new site at the 3939 Building in November 2017. The move has allowed Linen Services to keep pace with Mayo’s expansion and continued growth throughout the Midwest. The new Linen Depot covers 72,000 sq. ft. and is the mainstay of all the operations for the processing and distribution of linen for Mayo Clinic. Interns restock a variety of surgical and patient linen carts. Interns count and restock scrub carts, linen carts for patient rooms, poly carts, sling carts, and bag dietary rags. 

Project SEARCH student folding linens in as part of the Linen Services Internship.

Media Support Services

Media Support Services offers two distinctly different types of experiences. At the Print Shop, interns acquire a variety of assembly skills (DVDs, patient and employee education materials, mail sort). On the downtown campus, the primary focus is working on the computer with a variety of software applications (Microsoft Office – spreadsheets and Excel). Interns complete discrepancy emails, data cleanup, forms research, typesetting, and inventory control. 

Student intern sitting at a desk working on a computer

Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine

The mission of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine is to provide the best care to every patient every day through integrated clinical practice, education, and research. Among patients, the child's needs are unique from biologic, developmental, demographic, and psychosocial aspects. The interns provide indirect office and patient support through distributing mail, cleaning the lobby and Patient Education areas, and restocking medical supplies in patient exam rooms. 

Student Intern standing at a nurses desk as part of the Project SEARCH internship.