I graduated from Marist College in May of 2018. While I was on hiatus as I enjoyed free time for the summer, I was thinking about looking for my first employment experience, but I needed help with planning my next steps. When January came, I started out at Shrub Oak International School, where I would receive help with career advice and guidance for the future living as an adult on the autism spectrum.
I met with transition coordinators Candice Baugh and Katie McDermott to plan for the inevitable necessity of a job. I discussed with them what I am interested in, what I am good at and what I wanted to learn. I shared that I had previously interned at the media center at Marist College, where my task was organizing and labeling video files for the center to make available for clients. I also majored in Media Studies and Production with a minor in Games and Emerging Media.
After completing an assessment of my skills and interests, my transition coordinators connected me to an opportunity to work for Mental Health News Education, publisher of Autism Spectrum News and Behavioral Health News. I agreed that this would be a good match for me because it was similar to the work I had done for my college internship. I was also interested in getting more experience in a job in the media field.
The publisher, David Minot, interviewed me over the phone to evaluate my potential as an intern. The interview went very well as I was prepared for it. Mr. Minot and I felt like the role would be a good fit for my first employment experience. I signed the internship agreement and, from April 2019 to August 2019, I worked 10 hours per week for this position.
Internship and Consulting Work
My good work ethic and previous experiences were beneficial for my performance in this new role. My work involved creating Word documents from articles in a Publisher file and then I had to transfer the text in those Word documents to the website online using WordPress. My work was critical for bringing their database online for use on their newly designed websites.
I did this for about a semester’s length of time. Because of my experience interning at my college’s media center, I already knew how to complete my tasks. Since I was no stranger to the organization of articles, I knew how to approach this work methodically and with patience. It became a repetition that I found myself comfortable with.
If I were to analyze my strengths during this internship, they would include: my organized view of how to proceed about selecting each article, and my attention to detail for noticing if the author or organization categories in WordPress were missing specific results. From my experience, I learned about responsibility and the importance of keeping up with the expectations from others. I always kept a consistent pace with my workload, stayed focused on the task, and I gained more experience working with archives and articles. I was also exposed to a wealth of information as I had access to read any article of my choosing! They contained so much knowledge about issues regarding people on the autism spectrum, as well as emotional issues and the opioid epidemic within some communities. This gave me more awareness about how people deal with these types of subjects in the world.
In one semester I was able to work with over 900 articles for Autism Spectrum News. After completing the internship, I was fortunate to be offered a contracted position with Mental Health News Education doing similar work but now for the company’s other publication, Behavioral Health News. Altogether, I processed almost 2,000 articles between both websites. In addition to being a great work experience for me, I am proud to have made a very positive impact on the autism, mental health and substance use disorder communities by assisting in giving them a library of content they can now access easily and for free.
Working for a paycheck is time-consuming but worth it, and I have been learning to spend money carefully. I look forward to when I have a steady income so I can purchase whatever I desire without restriction.
Advice for Other Young Adults with Autism Looking for Employment Experience
My advice for other young adults on the spectrum entering into their first employment experience is to make sure you know what the job is about and what might be expected of you before you apply to a job. A great way to prepare for the interview is by role-playing. This type of preparation can help you feel less nervous and more secure. Also, experience matters and practice makes perfect.
My first job experience was a good opportunity to work in a familiar field and earn a paycheck for my efforts. I hope to get another paying job after this, preferably in game design with graphic design and animation. I would like to be a game designer because I think it would be fun to create games the way I want them to be and, in a way, bring my imagination to life. I am so grateful for the opportunity that David Minot and Mental Health News Education have provided to me. I was lucky to have this opportunity and I will always remember my first job – the experience will go a long way!