Employment frustrations from a mom’s point of view

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Mstngrn
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28 Oct 2023, 2:16 pm

I feel like I may have set my son up to fail. Maybe I expected too much. Although he finished his degree in cyber, he hasn’t been able to secure employment. Helping him navigating this puts a lot of pressure on the both of us. I recently wrote this in an email to an autism society:

Hello.
I am hoping this is a safe forum for me to report on my son’s experience through school.

My son, Nicholas, was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when he was in 4th grade. He was examined, poked and prodded, scanned, evaluated and assessed continually from then on in his academic journey. It was a rough road. He had a very hard time assimilating with the other students - not unique to students with autism. But he made it. Even after getting a beating to a pulp on the bus because he misread the social cues from the other students that they didn’t want to be bothered with him. Incidentally, he is extroverted not introverted. In my opinion this makes it worse because he does reach out to be included and therefore faces rejection over and over. Nicholas did graduate from high school. He earned his associate’s degree in liberal studies from Minnesota West Community College. Eventually he finished his bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity. Math and computers are his favorite interests. A success story, right?

Not really. I learned that in college, extra help/support is only available to students with disabilities if they ASK for it. Not like grade school and high school where it was automatically given. He struggled greatly in the first 2 years. A math class? Didn’t even hardly study. But an English class or a class that required understanding the language of a written exam? A nightmare. I mention this because it was the classes in these two years that negatively impacted his grade point average. He was admitted to college on a provisional admission and was able to earn grades that kept him in school. We were unaware of any scholarship opportunities for students like Nick that wouldn’t be dependent on the GPA. By “we” I mean Nick and myself. Dad wasn’t part of the picture of family life anymore (his dad and I divorced when he was in middle school). Nick and I made a pact that he would get the grades and I would “pimp” myself out on jobs that paid the most for my profession. We did that for 7 years. Nick couldn’t take more than 2 classes in the beginning. By his last semester he took 5 classes so he could graduate that spring. We did it! He graduated and I got him there with no student loans! I am so proud of him. But it’s been over a year now and we are having a very hard time getting him a job.

The feedback we get from internships and other opportunities is his GPA is too low. He qualifies for schedule A hiring authority and still, we cannot get him “in”. I am afraid he will be out of school too long and therefore won’t be able to start his career. In the mean time he works for a casino, full time, dealing cards and makes decent monies but that is not his career choice. He has a great work ethic, good customer service skills, is dependable and likes to work with a team. His largest challenge is that employers don’t think he is capable. That makes him defeated before even applying.

This is why I am writing. I don’t know where to go or who to talk to anymore. He has been rejected for interviews so many times he doesn’t want to apply anymore. If you have any leads we would greatly appreciate the reply.

Thank you for listening.



timf
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30 Oct 2023, 5:23 am

He might find work through a temp agency.

He might go directly to a small family business and offer his services at a discount.

You are to be commended for going the extra mile for your son. Not all of us had that support.



nick007
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30 Oct 2023, 11:55 am

I think he's doing well compared to me & a lot of autistics I see posting on WP. He currently has a job he's handling OK despite it being in a completely different field than he went to college for. These days plenty of nondisabled NTs are majorly struggling to find & maintain decent employment due to the economy being in the toilet. As timf mentioned your doing a great job at trying to be supportive. I think the best you can realistically do is to keep on encuraging him to keep working his current job while trying to find one he'll like better.


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goldfish21
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03 Nov 2023, 5:01 pm

timf wrote:
He might find work through a temp agency.

He might go directly to a small family business and offer his services at a discount.

You are to be commended for going the extra mile for your son. Not all of us had that support.


Good ideas here.

He might even do some volunteer work for some small business just to get some current experience & a reference letter.

I hate the idea of unpaid internships or free labour, but perhaps if he's not getting gainful employment the traditional way he could make a different sort of proposal, that he'll offer his services to a firm free of charge for X time frame to prove his capabilities before they make a commitment to hire him onto their staff ? Should they opt not to hire him, in exchange for his time served they could be required to give him detailed feedback on his skills/abilities/knowledge & performance so that he has a full understanding of why he wasn't hired there And what things he needs to work on to be employable elsewhere.

I would make some unconventional proposals like that rather than give up on a chosen career path. With mom's assistance he managed to go to school for years w/o a regular full time income, so, if there needs to be another brief period or two of volunteer work to get his foot in the door somewhere then maybe that's what he's go to do to make things happen for him.

Alternatively, perhaps there's a busy firm that does cyber security/IT stuff he's fully qualified for that would subcontract some excess work to him and he could do some part time work in the field - even if only loosely related - just to keep relevant and somewhat connected to the industry until he can land a better role.

Another thought might be that he applies for related work at the casino business he works for if they have servers, websites, camera system servers and things to secure.. whether at the location he works at, or another, or some central head office - maybe his dealing cards on the "shop floor," is a stepping stone into a department more relevant to his interests ? Or perhaps into the cyber security division of a competitor or state/government gaming corporation? They already Know he's passed all the good-human security requirements of the gaming industry And understands the importance of securing data/video/accounts etc in that business, so Maybe the one he works for - or another - might give him a shot in their cyber department.


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DanielW
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03 Nov 2023, 5:15 pm

If his GPA is the big factor in his not being hired, an internship in NOT the way to go. Internships are very competitive and yes, it does sometimes come down to the GPA between 2 candidates. Something entry-level outside of an internship program, even if its not directly related to his degree will probably be a better option.

Both small and large organizations need IT workers - everything from general tech support to network administration. Its not exactly the same as Cybersecurity but people generally need to start somewhere and work up.



SharonB
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04 Nov 2023, 9:47 am

I am in IT and don't get jobs the regular way. My way in is through temp, contract, volunteer or now later in life by invitation. My BFF and I graduated from Ivy league and we both worked minimum-wage jobs until nearly our 30s. My career didn't "launch" until age 27. My BFF took even longer. We were late bloomers that way. Good news is that in our 50s we are doing VERY WELL for ourselves now. In hindsight, both of us got "in" b/c somebody neurodivergent saw our potential and had strong influence in the decision making. At my first contract job I was cataloging software versions and the next thing you know I am an expert network engineer. My BFF was doing quality control at a mail-order catalog (mostly bras) and now she's a government [topic] expert.

So, your son a is a casino dealer --- statistics, people-oriented to some degree - lots of potential there. For you and him, I say it's a numbers game, take your time, find the fit --- he needs the fit. BTW - I left a meger-turned-toxic job in my 50s before getting a new job (I know, I know) and I contracted the Dept of Vocational Rehabilitation which helped me. They don't have hardly any clients like me (2e "twice exceptional"), but they managed to find a third-party assessment team and tool that helped me address my strengths and weaknesses head on in interviews in a factual, "normalizing" way. He's got nothing to lose - your son could even call it out --- "I know that initially folks can have the impression that I am not capable, but from experience I know once I warm up, I am doing all that and then some."

I really like the way you and your son managed his college workload. Wish I had done that (I burned out at first). You both are doing great. Hang in there!



David1346
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28 Dec 2023, 11:48 pm

I am a recently retired teacher. I was an elementary teacher for 17 years. I taught high school for 15 years. Since I'm single and unmarried, I've found that retirement doesn't really work for me. I'm currently taking coursework to become a special education teacher with an endorsement in autism and plan to reenter the teaching profession at the start of the Fall semester during the 2024-2025 school year.

I am also autistic but was not diagnosed with level I autism until I was 59. This was nearly 5 years ago.

Have you looked for a support group in your area? Some statewide support groups offer training programs and/or have networked with autistic friendly employers.

Cybersecurity could be a very lucrative field. Microsoft is known to be autistic friendly. They often have jobs in cybersecurity. Amazon could also be a good employer along with most financial institutions. Chase Bank also has an autistic friendly hiring practice.



CockneyRebel
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08 Jan 2024, 6:48 am

If I was beaten to a pulp by my peers every day, I'd be in a park smoking pot somewhere or dead. Your son is doing very well.


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08 Jan 2024, 7:17 am

Mstngrn wrote:
In the mean time he works for a casino, full time, dealing cards and makes decent monies but that is not his career choice. He has a great work ethic, good customer service skills, is dependable and likes to work with a team. His largest challenge is that employers don’t think he is capable. That makes him defeated before even applying].


Has he considered offering to do cybersecurity work for the casino? He already has a foot in the door. If the Casino knows his skills then "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush", they have access to him.

Alternatively he should join a temp agency who can deploy him for short term cybersecutity work. He racks up enough experience and also keep training himself he can easily afford to throw away his GPA/degree. Cybersecurity, experience and skills > paper qualification



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19 Jan 2024, 10:12 am

When I was working, before my last couple of degrees, it was in IT and I was a low level manager. I am NT. My husband has worked in IT for over 20 years. He is autistic. He started in a low position after he got an associate's degree and has slowly moved up to one of the highest positions in the department at the same company. USING, I might add, skills common to autistic people: loyalty, consistency, and keeping to himself. Over the long run, these turtle skills outrun the hare.

Your son needs to get some kind of computer related job and work his way up. The longer he goes without computer related work, the worse it is. He needs to build a history of interest in and updated skills in the computer industry. It does not have to be in cyber security. He could work at a Best Buy unloading the trucks.

Then he really needs to take free online classes and slowly build his skills so that he knows what he's doing. He'll eventually get the confidence so that he'll be able to answer questions in an interview and any autistic awkwardness will not matter. I would not bother looking at disability services, unless you are desperate. They usually just find you jobs at a supermarket or washing cars.

He should NOT mention in an interview that he has autism. No one wants to hear that. If I were hiring and someone told me they had a runny nose, I would instantly be turned off. Why are they telling me that? If this person is telling me their personal problems right off the bat, they are setting things up so that they can be a victim. Autism is not a problem, not something to talk about at work. It is personal.

I used to say on here that it's a personal choice to disclose and so on and so forth. Now I'm going to say strongly that going in new, I do not think anyone should disclose. Even if they are flapping hands and spinning and it's super obvious. Just go in strong and don't mention it. I have known a lot of autistic people who do very well at work. It's not something that will hold you back in the long run. It will help you after awhile.



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19 Jan 2024, 10:49 am

When I looked for work about 10 years ago, as an autistic woman, I just started asking my friends while looking through the phone book. That way they can network with people who are hiring by getting into the back door. Also, if he has a good portfolio with some samples of his best work, that can turn their heads.

Also, maybe support him on doing job interviews, practice dressing for the role that he wants, etc.



Summer_Twilight
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19 Jan 2024, 10:49 am

When I looked for work about 10 years ago, as an autistic woman, I just started asking my friends while looking through the phone book. That way they can network with people who are hiring by getting into the back door. Also, if he has a good portfolio with some samples of his best work, that can turn their heads.

Also, maybe support him on doing job interviews, practice dressing for the role that he wants, etc.