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 Technical Development Programme is open for applications until 31st December.
For the second part of this blog, see: 'Will Autism affect your career'.