I am determined to succeed in my career
For me, meaningful work is one of the keys to confidence.By Aaron Magee | July 24, 2020
Most of my life, I thought I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps as a police officer, but when I got to college, I discovered I had a real passion for working with technology. I became interested in hardware, software and cybersecurity, and after four years of hard work, I proudly graduated with a degree in IT. I was lucky to have a position in the university’s work-study program that helped me prepare for the real world, but the job search was more difficult than I had expected.
It’s hard to put into words what it feels like to be on the autism spectrum. When I was younger, I stuttered a bit and had difficulty remembering things I read. I worked with a tutor and practiced martial arts, which helped me improve my comprehension and concentration. The job search that summer and fall after college was a challenging time. It really tested my confidence in myself and my abilities.
That’s when I learned that CAI’s Autism2Work program had job openings available in Chicago. I attended the local “Meet and Greet” information session to learn more about the program and was later invited to attend the next Job Readiness Training (JRT). The JRT is a multi-day workshop that serves as both an extended interview and a workforce development training. From day one, I really liked the small group setting. The instructors were friendly and supportive – they took the time to get to know me. I was assigned to a team of peers to build a robot, which was fun and gave me the opportunity to share my ideas and learn some new skills.
A few weeks after completing the JRT, I got the call I was waiting for. It was from CAI offering me a full-time position at a law firm headquartered in Chicago. It was a dream come true! At the law firm, I was asked to help coordinate an ongoing project to collate and factcheck bios for the firm’s lawyers. Over the course of six months, my team reviewed more than 14,000 bio-related facts. I learned how to search data in several different applications and make decisions about which details to include or not include in each bio. Our work was valued at the company because the accuracy of the bios reflects the firm’s credibility.
In another project, I verify personally identifiable information (PII) fences as a security measure and then document and report the status of the project. I enjoy this work because it takes a detailed eye, and I have to be very careful with the PII data. I’m always checking the accuracy of the data and working to improve my efficiency.
The firm is a great place to work. My Autism2Work (A2W) team members are involved in a variety of projects. Some are doing research and analysis, while others are reporting or writing macros. CAI makes sure that the right person is in the right job. My A2W Team Lead coaches and trains the team using hands-on learning techniques as well as working one-on-one with us to help us develop our skills.
Since I started this job with A2W, I can tell I’ve grown. I often lead morning check-in meetings where my colleagues and I share what we’re working on, set expectations, and offer each other support. I love my job. I can be myself and I am building my confidence.
Find out more about how to find meaningful work with CAI’s Autism2Work program here.