Teamwork and time management: Lessons from Autism Speaks intern, Binh
Historically, unemployment has run high for autistic and other neurodiverse young adults, despite having the skills and desire to become productive members of the workforce. To help increase their chance of finding meaningful, full-time employment, this past Summer, Autism Speaks created the Iowa Summer Emersion Internship through generous funding provided by the state-government program, Future Ready Iowa. Six college students from across the state of Iowa were interviewed and brought on to assist in various projects within the organization. Each worked remotely with Autism Speaks-provided technology and scheduled periodic check-ins with their supervisors.
Here, Binh, a 23-year-old senior from the University of Iowa, shares her experience and the importance of internships, with assistance from the UI REACH (Realizing Educational and Career Hopes) office.
I have been lucky in that this was my eighth internship while in college. I also worked for the Veterans Affairs Business Office and for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, among other organizations. This is not unusual for students in my program. Starting in my second year, I was required to work 60 hours a semester for credit. Half of my internships were paid; my more recent jobs were the ones where I could make money. I found all my internships through my UI REACH instructors. They also helped me build my resume and practice interviews. But now I mostly handle that on my own.
My day-to-day job at Autism Speaks mostly involved data entry and analysis and database management, which I liked. I mostly worked for the Science and Services and Supports group. Much of my work was around the function of the Autism Speaks website. There are a lot of URLS and I could see how the site worked.
One of the good things about my internship was the amount of interaction I had with my supervisors. I had a lot of contact through zoom and email. I got a daily checklist of things to do. Then I also got daily feedback, which was very helpful too. My supervisors were engaging.
One thing that was different was, I never got to meet my fellow interns in person, as I was able to do in previous internships. We did meet every week over zoom though and got to know each other that way. I can do zoom but I prefer email for communication.
This internship was important for me because it involved teamwork and time management. We had early Monday morning meetings which were hard for me. I had to tie my schedule into my work schedule and learn work-life balance. My advice to others who are going to do an internship is to focus on managing your time and if you are going to be virtual, have a good attitude about it.
After I graduate with my Business Support degree, my hope is to find a job in Iowa City and move out of my parents’ house and into an apartment. I would like a similar job to this internship and plan on networking through my REACH instructor and connect with alumni. In addition to my degree, I have a Silver National Career Readiness Certificate (Level 4), a food handling and allergen certificate and my CPR training certificate. I have also done a ton of LinkedIn Learning. For now, my goal is to get through the rest of my classes and work on a budget to help me reach my goals.
For more information:
Visit UI REACH to learn more about their program and how 89% of its students are employed after graduation and 100% of its alumni employed earn above minimum wage.
Check out our Roadmap to Meaningful Employment for Autistic Adults for guidance and resources to navigate your employment journey.