Working With Autism
What's it like to find and keep a job when you have autism? Read about Isaac Boorstin's successes and challenges:
When I learned last Friday that I was hired to work at the Human Resources Administration, I was deeply surprised. It had been almost three years since I had graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, and ever since then I had been applying to job after job. For the longest period it seemed like I was going nowhere. Nobody was responding to my applications, and I seemed to lack the experience necessary to qualify for anything. Despite all my years of volunteer work, I had no prior job experience. To make things more complicated, I had a disability that kept me from forming connections with others and seemed like a crutch in my job search. I would always speak awkwardly at interviews and when faced with a question I didn't know, I would need someone else to step in.
But with some proper counseling, I learned that that crutch could be turned into an advantage. By meeting other people like me who are on the Autism Spectrum, I came to realize that I wasn't the only one having trouble, and that developing the necessary skills to obtain a job comes from more than just experience. With help, I was able to greatly modify my resume, and develop the proper interviewing skills needed. I set up a system of questions and answers that I knew they would ask, so I would always know how to respond. Even if I left an interview without ever hearing back, I could still feel confident knowing I was successful in explaining my capabilities; particularly in writing, communication, and organization. The fact that I could hone my acting abilities to showcase my talents also helped during these interviews. By letting the employers know I was deeply engaged and interested in what they had to offer, there could be no doubt they would consider me for the position.
But even with all with experience, the biggest factor in finding job placement was timing. By connecting to a temp agency, I was referred to many different organizations that were hiring people with my skill set. By using all I had learned to let them know who I was, it was inevitable that I would eventually strike a hit with one of them. Now that I have my first paying job, I face a new challenge: proving I deserve it. Even if it's just temporary, this would still be a paying job, with lots of responsibility, and earning it was only half the battle. But I am confident that starting this week, I will be ready for the next part of my journey, and whatever comes next.