5 Tips for Finding Employment for College Students on the Spectrum
Finding Employment for College Students on the Spectrum
In college, students are bombarded with increasing responsibility, which would make any neuro-typical person feel overwhelmed, let alone students who are on the Autism Spectrum. Part of this responsibility is to find a job. Working during the first year of college is not always wise, although some students may need to do so in order to make ends meet, and not all parents are able to provide financial assistance. But eventually, you will need to find some sort of job on-campus or nearby your university. Additionally, many programs require an internship or some sort of work experience related to a student’s course of study, in the third or fourth year.
1 | The Educational Advisory Board
The first thing to do is meet with your assigned academic advisor. If you have not yet declared a major, or you are simply looking for a job to assist with expenses during the school year, see if your on-campus Career Center has advising appointments. Make an appointment, and tell them your reasons for looking for a job, what you’re looking to do, the type of job (seasonal, internship, part-time on-campus, etc.) and how much you’re willing to work each week. Take all of the information they provide into consideration. However, the truth is, only you know yourself best, and what you can handle.
2 | Data Mining
After this, get on your phone or laptop, in a computer lab, the local newspaper, ads posted around campus, and search for a job. Most colleges will list on-campus jobs within their website. Off-campus jobs can be found elsewhere. Indeed is a great searching tool for employment because it allows you to put in numerous keywords, your ideal salary, and select an industry (which will help narrow down internship possibilities, if that is your goal).
Once you have found a number of possible jobs, print off job descriptions, and any pertinent information, and take it to the office that deals with Disability Services.
3 | Willing and Able
Make an appointment with someone in the office. They may even have additional job openings on or off-campus, even for the summer, which might be ideal for someone with increased symptoms of ASD. Ask to focus on companies known for their strong non-discrimination policies. Talk to them about the jobs you found, and what feels right to you. They will do their best to help.
Then, get back on the Internet, and apply, apply, apply! As a college student, you cannot afford to be picky when it comes to a job. If you get an offer for an interview and you feel like you can handle it, jump on it right away. Remember… you will not be working at Starbucks or in the Rec Center for the rest of your life. It is going to pay lower wages, and the work isn’t glamorous. But, the fact that you were resilient and got through it will be an asset when you apply for jobs after graduation.
Okay, so you’ve gotten one to four offers. That may be all you will get. Let’s say you apply to twenty jobs. Countless people will apply as well. Count yourself lucky you have gotten this far. Now it’s time to nail the interview.
4 | “So, tell me about a time you had to display conflict resolution skills?”
Many Career Centers offer interview coaching for students who may be nervous, or for who this will be their first job. Even jobs in food service or elsewhere on campus will require some sort of interview, usually over the phone.
By law, you do not have to disclose to your potential boss that you are on the ASD spectrum, or that you also have some other diagnosis. However, it may make things easier if an issue comes up during your time there related to your being on the spectrum. Not everyone is understanding of how non-neuro-typical people function, and a co-worker may be part of that group. It is ultimately up to you if you choose to disclose it or not.
5 | Yes or No
After the interview, send an e-mail thanking the person doing the hiring for their time. It shows that you are determined. If you end up being hired, great. If not, do not be disparaged. There are only so many jobs for workers with limited experience. Take the time to recover, and then get right back into the job search.
So, get out there, and begin the first steps to entering the working world!
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