A job isn’t just about the money, although that is one important aspect of employment. For most adults, self-esteem is directly linked to what they do in the workforce. Having a good job can make you feel like a contributing member of society. It decreases isolation and gives you a sense of responsibility. But finding a job can be challenging and frustrating, whether or not you’re on the autism spectrum. Dealing with autism can bring unique challenges that should be addressed as you’re seeking employment.
How can you be prepared for your job search?
If you’re a teenager on the autism spectrum, you will have to navigate much of the job search process on your own. You may not be able to have a parent in the interview room to help you talk to management. What can you do to be prepared?
- Learn about autism.
Educate yourself about autism. This can help you stand up for yourself and be your own advocate. As you read about autism, you will learn how others have navigated the system. You can find mentors who will give you advice to find an employer who is accommodating. Know about autism in the workplace to know what accommodations can be made for you.
- Know your strengths and weaknesses.
Know how you learn best. When are you at your best, in the morning when the day is getting started, after you eat, or in the afternoon? What learning style fits your needs. Do you want to have a checklist? Would a journal help you track your job? When you know your own style, you can better ask for what you need.
- Build a support system.
Although it sounds ironic, to become more independent, you have to learn to know when to ask for help. No one can make it in the world without a good support system. You might want to work with a career builder to help you find a job. Have a mental health provider to help you manage your emotions through the process. Find an adult who you can practice interview questions with.
- Work on building your confidence.
We could write an entire blog post on gaining self-esteem. You may need to learn new skills that will help you in your job search. Find role models who will motivate you to keep going. Practice interviewing with friends and family who can push you to be better.
- Develop a networking strategy.
Many jobs are found by networking. When you’re on the autism spectrum, it can be difficult to make connections with people. Work with your support system to find a strategy to network to find opportunities. One good way to make connections and have references is to volunteer for a non-profit organization.
- Just walk naked into the land of uncertainty.
You may just have to take a risk. Apply for a job. Interview. Once the interview is over, talk to your career coach about what you thought went well and what didn’t. Learn from your experience. It’s not easy to interview with a complete stranger. You may make mistakes. It’s okay. You may be the one that brings autism awareness to the company.
At employU, you’ll find job coaches that know how to work with a diverse population, especially with autism in teens. We have job readiness training and on-the-job training for youth that need to transition to a job. Contact us for more information.
Nick is the CEO of GMM Creative Group in Orlando. If you like this article and need fresh content for your website, visit us at www.gmmcreative.com for our blog writing services.