All it took was one 5-minute phone call for me to receive possibly some of the best news of my entire life. Growing up I never knew what I could expect as an adult. And then I heard the words…
“You’ve been hired to work with Autism Speaks!”
I received this call almost a month ago now. After graduating from Seton Hall University with a B.S. in Business Administration and finishing my Masters work this January in Strategic Communications from there as well, I can now reflect on how lucky I am to be where I am today.
As a consultant at Autism Speaks for 3 years working as a blogger and host of Kerry’s Korner, I was given a great opportunity to learn from an amazing group of experts in the field of social marketing. To now know I will be a part of this group full time is a dream come true in so many ways.
One thing I’m very much looking forward to, though, is sharing my job experiences here to help others on the spectrum. In June of last year I participated in the Autism Speaks Employment Think Tank with the hopes to do just that. Over the course of two days, I was able to meet other individuals on the spectrum along with experts, parents and many more wonderful people – all of whom are passionate about helping people with autism in today’s society.
As much as I look forward to making an impact in my position as Social Marketing Coordinator, I also hope to partner with the Adult Services team at Autism Speaks. One area that interests me a great deal is Advancing the Future for Adults with Autism (AFAA), a national consortium of organizations that are working together to help improve the lives of adults with autism. The fact is many young adults with autism are unemployed today. One in 3 young adults with autism has no paid job experience. This is a number that is constantly growing.
For the many young adults on the spectrum who I aim to help, when applying for jobs I encourage you to stay motivated and be optimistic about the future. Places like Autism Speaks are constantly advocating for businesses to look at people on the spectrum for paid jobs. A quote I wrote on my Facebook feed a while back noted that the majority of individuals with autism have already had to work the 9-5 job in their therapies just to progress to the point where they can handle a full time job as an adult.
Adults with autism much like me have a strong interest in certain areas. Therefore, in theory, if you get them in a job of interest they could not only excel but exceed everyone’s expectations. The main thing is looking at the individual person before the label of “autism.” Give that opportunity to someone who can make a huge impact, while at the same time opening doors for future employers to see people with autism as equals.
Autism Speaks has given me just that opportunity, and for that I’m forever grateful. So again to those adults with autism out there, never give up hope on the job world. I will continue to push for us all. I hope that you always remember to push yourself to find your niche and go for the job that best matches your strengths and interests. I truly believe that our best days are ahead of us.