By Aidan Dunn, Intern at the Global Autism Project
Well readers, I’ve finally done it. Starting on May 1st I graduate from being just one of many unpaid internships working across the United States of America into becoming a paid part time employee here at the Global Autism Project! This is a big deal for me as it’s the first time I’ve really had a paying job. I’ve had plenty of prior internships mind you, but this is the first time I can truly call myself gainfully employed. I’ve worked at a sporting goods manufacturer, a bank, a car dealership, a hospital, and I’ve worked on two political campaigns so I definitely have work experience, but this is still a big step forward for me. Again, I should stress that this is atypical for those on the spectrum- a lot of us really struggle with getting and holding jobs. I’ve talked about these issues a lot more in previous blog posts, so I won’t repeat them here (Check my Autism and Jobs post for more info). Instead, today I will talk about the importance of training for those with Autism. One of the major complaints that people have with modern society is that everyone apparently wants you to have job experience before giving you a job. This is a reasonable request, but when even entry level jobs require extensive experience in a certain field, it can be hard for anyone to even begin to pursue a career. This trouble with experience goes double for anyone on the Autism spectrum since it can be hard for employers to judge how dedicated or competent we can be without prior references. The best thing then is to find a group that can help you get an internship and provide training so that you can survive in today’s dog-eat-dog jobs market. For me, most of my experience came from my high school Summit (http://www.summitqueens.com/)- a school specializing in teaching those with emotional and learning challenges that I liked so much that I feel obliged to advertise it free of charge whenever the chance arises. One of the neat things they would do when I was in their high school was that on Fridays instead of normal classes, my classmates and I were sent to a number of internship locations where we would get job experience instead of schoolwork. This gave me quite the impressive resume for when high school ended as well as gave me the training I needed. There are plenty of organizations out there that help those on the spectrum get the training they need for jobs.
*The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Global Autism Project.*