In the second of 2 blogs, Drew explains how autism affected his career choices.
I still remember my first day at Nationwide. I was blown away by the size of Nationwide House. It was a bit like that cheesy scene in the movies where the son moves into the father’s job. I could’ve almost stood in the entrance and spun around for the camera panning effect, but I probably would’ve been asked to leave for coming off as crazy!
I couldn’t have been more wrong about the assumption of what my job would be. I thought I’d be answering phones or something vaguely technical but no - I was introduced to my manager who swiftly explained that I would essentially be a Designer. I would become an expert in my assigned area and support the technical development of that area.
“ I stayed silent for a lot longer than I should’ve out of fear for being laughed at ”
As an individual with no real IT background, the task seemed gigantic
The things I really struggled with were the most mundane - I’d be told about how programs call specific records for example, the entire time wanting to stop him and say “What’s a record?” I stayed silent for a lot longer than I should’ve out of fear for being laughed at. But I remember what my manager said;
“This job is not a job you learn in a day, I’ve been here 24 years and I don’t know everything about my area, but what will happen is one day, maybe a year from now, the penny will drop and you will know the questions to ask to get the answers you need.” It was refreshing to have been given that perspective; they didn't expect me to build Rome in a day, they knew full well the amount of training they would need to give me, and were prepared to give it. I was blown away, as I’d never experienced that in my previous jobs.
“ The development has been amazing, without hand-holding. I’ve been given all the tools to support my development, but the onus is still on me to drive it forward, so anything I’ve achieved, I can proudly say they are my own achievements ”
So what’s my future looking like? Well pretty great! Nationwide has helped me get my qualifications; they’ve paid for 3 IT courses and are paying for a 4th to support me towards a BCS Solutions Development Diploma. They’ve not asked for a penny back either, and I’ve checked!
In the last few months I’ve joined a Technical Development Programme to move me from a trainee role into the full time, design role. The development has been amazing, without hand-holding. I’ve been given all the tools to support my development, but the onus is still on me to drive it forward, so anything I’ve achieved, I can proudly say they are my own achievements. I was the first apprentice to join the programme and I’ve been told I beat over 100 people to do so!
I’ve discovered PRIDE, and realise that such things like my disability and my background do not matter given the PRIDE values. I’m just as equal and capable as every other colleague. I’ve become a PRIDE Partner in my area to help spread this message, and I have been working towards becoming a PRIDE Champion so that I can go even further with PRIDE.
2 years later, I’ve settled into a longer career with Nationwide
They’ve provided me with ongoing training, and I have very realistic expectations throughout my development. There were some road bumps, nothing is ever perfect, but the important aspect for me was that there was a mutual interest in working through the problems as they arose, instead of making them worse.
Looking forward, I’ll be visting India as part of my work, and I'm aiming to achieve the role of managing our technical teams.