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Drew's story


Drew is a recent runner up in the Target jobs 'National Apprentice of the year' award. In the first of 2 blogs, Drew explains how autism affected his career choices.

I honestly had real issues finding my place in life. I was almost expelled from school for poor behaviour when I was about 13. After seeing many doctors I was later told that I had Asperger’s Syndrome (high functioning autism), and that it would forever affect the way I communicate with those around me. The doctor then proceeded to outline my limitations, things that the doctor felt I would not be able to do. One of those things was that I would never be able to hold down a ‘proper’ job, and another was that I’d never be able to support myself to live independently from parents or carer.

I remember not feeling that much, not caring at all.

I was even using the situation to my advantage, causing trouble and saying I did not understand because of my disability. It came back to bite me, I didn’t do well in school, I didn’t get in to any of the Universities I wanted to get into and when finally I did get into University, I dropped out in a matter of months. After failing, I just felt all my confidence sapped from me. In this respect, one could suggest I was ‘successful’ i.e. successfully meeting the limitations set before me by a medical professional.

Having worked Part Time in Retail since I was 18, with no success in getting any full time hours, I felt myself becoming less and less driven. I was growing desperate because I felt like I was living the life dictated for me by the doctor. Because I never achieved anything in those years I kept telling myself that the doctor was right and that I would never amount to anything, self-pity, now that I was really good at.

“ Something in me however was telling me to fight back. I knew I had skills; I must have had drive because these thoughts were coming from somewhere. I just needed a chance. ”

Then I saw Nationwide’s Apprenticeship. It was called “Application Specialist Apprentice”.

The salary dwarfed other apprenticeships in comparison, and when I learnt more about the role through the interview, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It required logical thinking, and with my Autism, I began to see that just because I thought differently, did not necessarily make it a bad thing, I seemed naturally suited to this job.

Would my autism affect my candidacy for the position, it was certainly my concern. Thankfully however, Nationwide’s commitment to equality and diversity meant that I swiftly passed through the initial application.

After the interview, I remember every day going on forever, I was checking my phone on an hourly basis, every single day, restarting the phone in case my signal had stopped any messages coming through. Then when I got the call, they told me I had got the apprenticeship! I remember going “Oh wow that’s amazing!” down the phone, quite loudly too, because once I’d hung up, I went to tell my father, to which he replied “Yeah I know, I heard you shouting”.

Our roles

Our Technical Development Programme is open for applications until 31st December.

For the second part of this blog, see: 'Will Autism affect your career'.



Here at Nationwide we like to give our employees a voice so they can tell their own story in their own words. We have a number of guest bloggers that contribute a story or two so have a look around and feel free to share.

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  • Sharon

    Well done Drew, you have given me so much hope for grandson, who is Autistic. You have done amazing darling. Thank you for sharing this with us.xx

  • Lisa

    Great to hear your journey, inspiring to hear about your perseverance and not let one persons view dictate your life. Great role model and inspiration to others facing similar bias x

  • Sherri

    Well done Drew, and well done Nationwide for seeing your potential

  • Nationwide careers

    Thanks for your comments - we're really proud to work with lovely people like Drew.

  • nicki

    So proud of you drew. You always knew never to settle for anything less. X

  • Drew

    Thank you all for your kind words. It was great fun to write this blog, and I'm glad I've had the opportunity to reach out to people :)

  • Rachel

    The blog is great Drew, I cannot wait to read part 2. Thank you for your time, I have enjoyed working with you on this.

  • Jim

    I have found that people with autism can be incredibly good at business process design and producing efficient solutions for simplifying otherwise complex tasks. There are many businesses out there that could really benefit from realising that great talent can be missed if they just look for polished communications and inter-personal skills when interviewing young people early in their careers. Great to read of your success Drew in securing the apprenticeship and well done Nationwide for realising that talent doesn't come neatly boxed as a single formula.

  • Sam

    I really enjoyed reading this Drew. Congratulations on all your achievements so far.

  • Stephanie

    Amazing Drew this is a lovely story i am sure you are supported very well.

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