I don't just want a job, I want a career

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MissMoneypenny
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14 Feb 2013, 11:53 am

Having read a few books and websites about AS in the workplace, I am left feeling that the focus is to try and get people into some form of paid employment that they won't get the sack from, and that if the person is in a job, any job, then it is mission accomplished.

Am I alone in feeling that these books and websites aren't speaking to the higher functioning Aspies out here?

Companies like Specialisterne are touted as the ne plus ultra of employment for people on the spectrum. But I am a big picture thinker - the "N" part of my INTJ profile is by far the highest preference of the four scales - and I don't want to spend all day doing routine nitpicking of details. That's why I hate my administrative job.

I would like some proper careers advice, and if my lack of qualifications means that my skills/interests can only be followed by running my own show, then I'd like plenty of advice about that too. From someone who understands the issues connected with both AS and extremely high intellectual ability.

I'm in the UK, and the NAS have been a complete waste of time.



Thelibrarian
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14 Feb 2013, 12:14 pm

Miss, I know of three ways to have a career instead of a job:

1. Get some kind of in-demand professional training, such as engineering or law school.

2. Find something you like and are good at and work your way up through the ranks while remaining cognizant that only well diggers start at the top.

3. Go into business for yourself.

Finally, I would add that the most important thing is to understand one's own strengths and limitations. I chose my career long before I had ever heard of AS; I thought I was uniquely weird and defective. So, understanding my character traits, good and bad, were all I had to work with, and it has worked out very well for me.

Good luck!



BTDT
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14 Feb 2013, 1:59 pm

I'd say that the three top fields for Aspies are Science, Engineering, and Medicine. Unfortunately, the last one is typically off limits unless you have academic credentials--in the USA--you can be a wonderful Doctor from another country--but they won't let you practice as a Doctor here.

Another great field for Aspies is inventing. Personally, I've never had any difficulty finding new ways of doing things that work better than current art--perhaps you can do the same? An advantage to being an prolific Aspie is that you can just give stuff away--there is more where that came from, so why not? Which gives you a huge advantage over a NT who may only have a couple of really useful ideas in their lifetime--in which case ideas become a precious commodity.



Stargazer43
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14 Feb 2013, 2:45 pm

I agree, the vast majority of career services are centered towards simply finding someone a job, not necessarily a good or long-term one. I think the two major things to ask yourself are, what are you interested in doing, and how hard are you willing to work in order to get involved in a particular field?

I think that the first point in Thelibrarian's post is very good. Engineering is a great career (I'm one myself), but it does require a four year degree that is pretty labor intensive and it certainly isn't for everyone. And med school...that's 8 years on top of a 4-year undergrad degree, not to mention it's extremely competitive to even get accepted, so I only recommend that for the truly determined (or crazy). There are numerous other less rigorous certifications you can get that will both help you stand out and get your feet in the door on particular career paths.

One of the more popular these days are in the medical field. Nursing, equipment techs, etc, all make great money and require very little schooling or training. Most only require a 2-year or less program to get started. There's also various niche markets like welding, computer-assisted drafting, carpentry (construction), and tons more that are all in relatively high demand and provide stable employment.

I personally never recommend starting your own business unless you have plenty of resources to support it, and know exactly what you want to do and how to do it. The failure rate of start up businesses is just so high that it really takes a good deal of effort and knowledge to make it work. I've been through the wringer quite a few times with respect to employment myself, so if you would like any additional advice feel free to ask!



Ivanhoe
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15 Feb 2013, 4:55 pm

I agree that there is this idea in the literature that if an Aspie can "be taught" how to hold down a job: then societies mission is accomplished and the Aspie him/herself can live out their days content and fore-filled.

Thankfully that stereotype is not only offensive, its also bonkers!

The others have listed jobs that suit Aspies particular talents. As you're in the UK like me, you'll have discovered that almost all work that is available is in the service sector: where detailed knowledge of subject matters or technical systems counts for little against being able to be a jack of all trades and able to negotiate the unsaids of office politics.

But even that shouldn't stand in your way if you can find a role you enjoy and keeps you challenged. Apologies if this simply goes over stuff you already know: but good managers (and if you want a career you'll have to become a good manager yourself one day) will want to build teams with diverse range of skills. Just because you haven't got strengths in say "writing briefings" doesn't mean you aren't fantastic at "Risk Assessment". If the manager is any good, they will pair your strengths off against another member of the team whose strengths are elsewhere.

I have a career. I'm a Whitehall Civil Servant working for the Government of the day getting their good (and not so good) policies into law and implemented. I hold an SEO rank, which is as high a rank as anyone in their twenties could expect to hold in the Civil Service, but by training, I am not a scientist, engineer, mathematician or any of the other Aspie stereotypes. Instead, I've taken the same Aspie traits that make people excel in those types of careers and applied them in project management, policy research and risk analysis and I've carved out a niche for myself as the person whose very good at comprehending how complex systems work and the guy who can figure out how to get projects A and B to mesh to achieve objective C.

In your case, you've said your not happy with your administrative job. But if you sit down and think about it: their must be aspects of your administrative job that you enjoy more and do better at then others. If you can list those things, you can probably paint for yourself a picture of the kind of job that would best suit you and expand those skills / abilities and gain the experience you'll need to get the next job that builds on those skills further.

And most importantly don't lose heart. Almost everyone has career ups and downs. For some people, those downs include getting into a career in the first place. And don't forget that at the moment, the jobs market is only just beginning to recover from the worst recession in nearly 100 years. Lots of people are finding they are having to sit in jobs they don't like waiting for the economy to build the capacity for them to have a career. But I can tell you now, as that job market does recover, employers are going to be looking first at people who a) have been holding down a job through the bad times and b) who have built up a CV with extra training and skills that may prove useful.