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melmaclorelai
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29 Nov 2013, 7:51 am

Hi, everyone.

I'm in the process of completing an undergraduate university degree in the social sciences. I really like university and I've enjoyed most of my classes but I am all too aware that my degree doesn't come with a clear-cut career plan and doesn't offer as much job security as a degree in the hard sciences or business.

I've had absolutely no formal work experience. I've applied to lots of jobs in the past but nothing has come of it. I don't have many expenses since I still live at home and don't have any immediate plans to move out (my family is okay with this) so it's not absolutely imperative that I start working right now.

However, I would like to start narrowing down my options and start gaining a sense of which direction I'm going in, in terms of career. I already know what I don't want in a job but I'm not as clear about what I do want in a job.

I'm not particularly creative so I don't think I'd enjoy a job where I was expected to constantly generate my own content but I might be able to do it if I enjoyed the working environment and it was a good fit for my lifestyle and personality. I'm also not very good at maths.

I don't want to be doing a lot of physical work as I'm just not inclined that way. I also don't want to be working in an environment that's really fast paced where there's a lot of pressure for me to be 'on' and I don't get any time to breathe.

I'd also hate to work in an environment where I'd be required to focus on the small details or complete lots of small, individual tasks. I'd also hate to work in an environment that would require a lot of small talk and other social nuances like that.

None of that stuff comes naturally to me and I would be putting up a fake persona every single time I went in to work at a job like this. I had to do that to some extent when I was younger and still in formal schooling. It was horrible and a job that required me to do this every single day would become unsustainable very quickly.

I'd like to hear about what people on this forum do for work so I can start figuring out the work aspect of my life. Please include details about how you managed to get your job, what (if anything) inspired you to pursue work in that industry, what the working environment is like, your relationship with your colleagues (if you have any) and how good of a fit you think it would be for someone like me.

I'd be willing to pursue further education for the right career and I'm open to suggestions so please don't be shy to post. :D

I'd be particularly interested in hearing from people who work in the fields of psychology, counselling, community service, cultural services, library/information services, professional home/office organizing, writing/editing, adult education, medical administration and legal administration.


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jagatai
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29 Nov 2013, 11:01 am

My field of work is radically different from your interests, but perhaps some of my experiences might be useful to you.

I do graphics, photography, animation and assorted tech work for a small industrial film company. I like solving problems in a wide range of disciplines and I have tended to end up in jobs where I can easily shift from one kind of work to another. In my current job, one day I might be creating animations for a film, then next I might be doing a bit of programming to facilitate some data management task, the next I might be out on a photo shoot. The down side of this style of work is I am never really good at any one of these fields (although I'm generally better than most people) but on the good side, I get enough variety to keep me interested.

I like working with small companies because they tend to lack the annoying bureaucracies of HR departments that cannot see value in personal idiosyncrasies. While my eccentricities might be annoying to some people, they are also part of what makes me good at what I do. An HR person might reject me because they tend to look at the "qualifications" but not the overall competency of a person. I tend to function better on a "one to one" basis and I can usually impress the people who directly need my skills although I doubt I'd impress anyone who just had to find a qualified person.

Most of the jobs I've gotten have been through knowing someone at the company I ended up working for. For a while I followed one friend from job to job. When he was quitting his job as a theatre projectionist, he trained me and I took over for him. Later, when he was getting too much work doing motion control animation for TV shows, he trained me to do that job and I worked the late shift. Later when he started his own company, I followed him to that.

But I also wanted to get work doing commercial photography. One of the things I was told by other photographers was to NOT call art directors at magazines because they were too busy and would be less likely to hire people who called and annoyed them. But the way I saw it was that, at least with the small trade magazines, given the choice between two equally skilled photographers, an art director was more likely to hire the one that had made some kind of personal contact. So I called these art directors and got good paying work fairly quickly. (It didn't hurt that I was a good photographer).

My point here is that direct personal contact is very useful in getting work. It's difficult for Aspies but it can be done. (I stopped doing commercial photography because I couldn't cope with talking to strangers on a daily basis.). But I ended up getting my current job when an old client happened to stop in to say hello a week or two after I finished making a demo reel of animations. Ultimately it was the personal contact I had made years before that got me my current job.

Obviously when you are starting out, you won't have the range of contacts that might get you to the kind of job you want, but over time you can build these contacts. It might be useful to keep the idea of networking in the back of your mind as you apply for jobs. Dealing with strangers on a daily basis can be pretty stressful (although you can learn to deal with it over time) so finding work where you can limit the people you have to interact with might be a good idea. But also be aware of how these people might be able to help you move to the next job.

Maybe none of this is helpful to your particular field or maybe only a little bit is useful. Anyway, I wish you good luck.


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starenczak
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30 Nov 2013, 9:29 am

I am going to give you a simple and candid bit of advice :) most jobs/careers today require a degree in ANY discipline, doesn't have to be specific to the job you're applying for, the degree is an example that you have certain skills like completing a project, structuring work or meeting deadlines.

Might be a good idea to think what kind if environment and work would suit you now - Business Analyst jobs are good, and aligning yourself with one of those rather than take your studies literally and assume you're only trained to do only one line of work!



Moop
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30 Nov 2013, 10:52 pm

I work as a pari-mutuel teller (clerk) at a race track. Essentially that means I sell wagers on race horses.

Horse racing has never been a real interest for me. My dad used to be a jockey, my mom has worked as a teller since she was 16 (the track lied about her age to get her in). My grandfather was a horse trainer. I never understood anything about wagering on horses before I started working there as my father retired out of that career once I was born. My mom still works as a teller (now alongside me).

Going into the job I was very nervous. It’s a job that requires the people skills to deal with a large amount of transactions quickly. People have to tell me what they want, I type it, a ticket prints out, and they hand me the money. Once I was accustomed to the job it turned out to be very easy. The social skills that I might have lacked I did not need, because the patron should ideally know what he wants to bet, how much it costs, and have the money ready. Most of the time when I first began I never had to say "Hi" or "Have a nice day" or any of those pleasantries. The bettor came up, made his bet, gave me the money, and walked away before I had the chance to actually say anything. And I’m not expected my make eye contact most of the time because I’m supposed to be looking at my screen or keyboard.

The job also requires quick arithmetic skills. We don’t have calculators there either (other than my cell phone), so when the customer owes $126, and gives $200, I’m supposed to know he needs $74 back by quickly calculating or counting it back. And I’m supposed to dole out thousands of dollars whenever needed. None of these things I did before, but since it was my money I learned fast.

The job did fit into my interests without me knowing it. I love computers, and have been a fast typer since I was two years old. I can type a wager as fast as the bettor says it (we have special keyboards - like court stenographers). I also found out many of the people there are "crazy" too, so I fit in fairly well. People even appreciated my aspie-like honesty (the hard truth), and all the small talk people made there was about money. Still, people would talk about other things and I had no idea how to respond. But nobody stuck around at my window, so no pressure to converse anyway. For the most part, the people there actually appreciated me being eccentric.

I’m also an undergraduate college student. I’ve applied to many jobs, and rejected from all of them too (many I was not even considered). This has been my first job that I had no previous experience applying to. I do have to say it has been a lot to handle, and after coming home from a day working I have to shut myself down for a while. I still don’t have terrific social skills outside of working at the track. I actually imagine myself as an NPC in an RPG sometimes. Many of my responses feel "canned" sometimes.

Do make sure you find some type of work experience before you complete university though! It’s difficult for employers to consider someone with a degree but no formal work experience (even if unrelated to whatever you’re pursuing). It’s tough finding work, and you don’t want to walk out of college in debt having to work entry level jobs.



melmaclorelai
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04 Dec 2013, 10:28 pm

Thank you for the responses. All of them gave me something to think about and I can definitely relate to some of the things that were said regarding social skills.


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JohnConnor
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05 Dec 2013, 8:19 am

If you have not done so already you can probably make an appointment with the Disabilitiy Services Office at your university. Since you are alumnae they can more than likely help you in some capapcity. I just graduated in April of this year and I am on track to obtain a clerical administrative career in government.


They are helping me out with contacts with the State Rehabilitation Services Commission. I'm not saying that you are unable to accomplish your goals on your own, however it is wiser to have one REALLY GOOD CONTACT in order to help you get to wherever you want to go.



melmaclorelai
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14 Dec 2013, 10:01 am

I haven't graduated yet (still have a year and a half to go) and I haven't had an official diagnosis as of yet but I'm definitely going to look into that as I can recognize that I'm going to need help with this.

You say that you are working towards a career in clerical administration - if you've had any experience with administration so far, could you please elaborate on what the working environment is like?

Administration is one of the fields I'm interested in pursuing but it's difficult to make a decision when you don't really know how to get started or what would be expected of you in that field.


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JohnConnor
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14 Dec 2013, 9:46 pm

Currently I am volunteering at a local hospice. When you are working in an office environment the emphasis is on being accurate, thorough and detailed in your work. Unlike retail where the emphasis is on speed.

Get the diagnosis as soon as possible and then you can receive services.



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15 Dec 2013, 1:03 pm

I work for a nonprofit social services organization and thought I'd reply since you said community service was something you're interested in. I do a lot of behind the scenes work in terms of grantwriting and administration, but also spend a lot of time working directly with clients, either via home visits or by phone.

The social aspect of my job can be hard, but the office politics is more challenging for me than working with clients a lot of the time. (Usually, the type of people who get into social services work tend to be very outgoing uber-NT's). I managed to find a population (people with serious illnesses and disabilities and the elderly) that I seem to connect with pretty well, but know there are other populations I'd find it very difficult to work with, like, say, Children & Youth. I think a lot of people with Asperger's can do well in 'the helping professions,' but it's a matter of finding the right niche for them and everyone is different.

In terms of how I got into doing what I'm doing now, I sort of took a back door. I have an English degree, which also doesn't always lend itself to a direct career path, unless you want to teach or go to law school, and got my current job because they wanted someone who could take on grantwriting and marketing, as well as some of the day-to-day operations of the program. I also was hired early on, when the program was first starting out, learned and grew as the program grew and moved up as opportunities to do that came along. Usually, they'd want someone with an MSW or MPA to be doing what I'm doing, not a BA.



melmaclorelai
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20 Dec 2013, 7:13 am

JohnConnor wrote:
Currently I am volunteering at a local hospice. When you are working in an office environment the emphasis is on being accurate, thorough and detailed in your work. Unlike retail where the emphasis is on speed.

Get the diagnosis as soon as possible and then you can receive services.


I'm sorry to keep asking you questions but how did you go about getting your diagnosis? I've had very bad luck with psychologists and counselors in the past and I'm really hesitant about approaching or seeking a professional diagnosis at all.

blueroses wrote:
The social aspect of my job can be hard, but the office politics is more challenging for me than working with clients a lot of the time. (Usually, the type of people who get into social services work tend to be very outgoing uber-NT's). I managed to find a population (people with serious illnesses and disabilities and the elderly) that I seem to connect with pretty well, but know there are other populations I'd find it very difficult to work with, like, say, Children & Youth. I think a lot of people with Asperger's can do well in 'the helping professions,' but it's a matter of finding the right niche for them and everyone is different.


I definitely identify with this. I wasn't very good at navigating the politics of school and I don't think I'd fare much better at office politics. I'm just not really interested in who said what to who and who thinks what about who and so on.

I'd definitely prefer to work with the elderly or adults than young children as well.


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JohnConnor
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20 Dec 2013, 2:17 pm

And that is EXACTLY why you would fail at office politics. You HAVE to take an interest in what goes on in other peoples' lives. Every day when I go into that Hospice office to volunteer all I have to do is simply ask how my coworker's day was. They tell me whats going on. I come back with an appropriate response and I try to relate with a similar story. Now you should be careful how much of an interest you take in someone else's personal life. My rule is I never get specific unless they do.

Meaningless conversations help you to 'gel' with your coworkers but not too much. You want to gel with your coworkers but not to the point where are having beers with them afterwards. At least that is my philosophy. It has served me well so far.



JohnConnor
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20 Dec 2013, 2:20 pm

For me getting the diagnosis was a LOOOOOONG HAAAAARD road. My parents were convinced by a local preacher through a phone call In 2006.. In January of 2006 I went home and was taken to a clinical psychologist. That is where I got the diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome.



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21 Dec 2013, 2:35 pm

melmaclorelai wrote:
Hi, everyone.



I'm not particularly creative so I don't think I'd enjoy a job where I was expected to constantly generate my own content but I might be able to do it if I enjoyed the working environment and it was a good fit for my lifestyle and personality. I'm also not very good at maths.

I don't want to be doing a lot of physical work as I'm just not inclined that way. I also don't want to be working in an environment that's really fast paced where there's a lot of pressure for me to be 'on' and I don't get any time to breathe.

I'd also hate to work in an environment where I'd be required to focus on the small details or complete lots of small, individual tasks. I'd also hate to work in an environment that would require a lot of small talk and other social nuances like that.

None of that stuff comes naturally to me and I would be putting up a fake persona every single time I went in to work at a job like this. I had to do that to some extent when I was younger and still in formal schooling. It was horrible and a job that required me to do this every single day would become unsustainable very quickly.



I'd be particularly interested in hearing from people who work in the fields of psychology, counselling, community service, cultural services, library/information services, professional home/office organizing, writing/editing, adult education, medical administration and legal administration.


I love working in my library. That being said, everyone has to create displays and come up with public programs. There are also a lot of small projects on an ongoing basis, and if you work in a union environment, there are plenty of rules.... good though because unions work on your behalf, and a staff room for breaks.

I think it all comes down to what values you can or want to compromise on.



managertina
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21 Dec 2013, 2:40 pm

My rule to myself is... If I want to talk about 'big talk' ideas and items, I should try to meet my conversation partner where they are at too, and discuss their topics. Or else they won't want to talk with me for the right reasons.... they'll think I'm boring and tactless. Because people have thought I am boring and tactless, and they were right at that time.

But I would also think that, if you are getting diagnosed, try and find out something about your psychologist first, like whether they have a background or experience with autism. Mine did, and that made the difference.



Thalia13
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26 Dec 2013, 5:27 pm

JohnConnor wrote:
And that is EXACTLY why you would fail at office politics. You HAVE to take an interest in what goes on in other peoples' lives. Every day when I go into that Hospice office to volunteer all I have to do is simply ask how my coworker's day was. They tell me whats going on. I come back with an appropriate response and I try to relate with a similar story. Now you should be careful how much of an interest you take in someone else's personal life. My rule is I never get specific unless they do.

Meaningless conversations help you to 'gel' with your coworkers but not too much. You want to gel with your coworkers but not to the point where are having beers with them afterwards. At least that is my philosophy. It has served me well so far.



What JohnConner said. Think of it as a new routine: come in, smile, say a big good morning to everyone, talk the longest path to get to your desk/office, make eye contact with a few people, smile, sit down. Start your computer, while it's booting, have 1-2 very brief mindless convos with the people you have the most frequent contact, then get to work. You'll have to do more as time goes on, but this will help you to appear as "normal" as possible while keeping the office harpies off your back.

And don't live/work in the south. It's an aspie's worst nightmare; all they care about are superficial pleasantries.