How finding the right job gave me confidence and purpose
Some people view my autism as a weakness, but CAI sees it as a strength.
By Sean Kelly | September 19, 2019
When I graduated from college in computer science, I started to look for a job, but interviews were difficult for me. I just didn’t have the confidence I needed to convince people I was right for the job. I put on my resume that I had autism because I felt they should have the information, but I began to wonder if that was the right thing to do.
I was diagnosed with autism when I was young. It means I have sensitivities that make certain situations difficult for me. It was a struggle for my family. My diagnosis was like throwing a curve ball at them and they didn’t have a bat. But they buckled down and made sure I got all the help I needed through the years. My family is still helping me out. The truth is, as I got older, I aged out of all the support systems.
While I was looking for a job, I tried to stay busy. I helped my mom renovate the upstairs bathroom. I built my own personal computer, studied for my A+ software certification, and played in some Yu-Gi-Oh! tournaments, but I kept worrying about my career. I kept interviewing at different places, but I never got a call back.
I felt like my life wasn’t going anywhere.
Then someone told my mom about Autism2Work, and I was invited to the Job Readiness Training. When I got there, I knew right away it was something that could help me prepare for a job in IT where I could finally be part of a team. The training class lasted 8 days and we were asked to complete many different tasks. The class was split into two teams, and we were asked to build and program a rebot to help the elderly population. We chose to build a robot that could help a deaf person know if their phone was ringing. It was all about teamwork – and I enjoyed meeting new people like me that wanted to learn. The training was super helpful because I got see what it’s like to work in an actual office.
A few days after I finished the training, I found out I was offered a position to work in the IT department at a health care company Highmark. I was so happy that I immediately called my mom, dad, sisters, and even my grandma. Being hired made me feel great, like this was finally an opportunity to make something of my life. I could start my career and begin to see my future more clearly.
I took the “T” train downtown before my first day of work to make sure I could find the office and be on time. I was so nervous for my first day at Highmark but I quickly made friends with my co-workers. After I got used to the routine, I started working on completing security requests and our CAI Team Lead was right there if we needed anything. My team has been working on access management, audit remediation, and documentation projects. We make each other laugh a lot and we get a lot done.
Some people view my autism as a weakness, but CAI sees it as a strength. The way CAI is utilizing my strengths is really helping me be more confident in my own skills and more confident in my future. It was the first company to give me a chance to prove myself, and I will always be thankful for that.
The future is very bright for me now. The fact that I have a full-time job in IT is a major stepping stone in my life. It feels great to have a purpose and be successful.