My career journey didn’t start exactly as planned.
After I graduated from Northumbria University in Newcastle, U.K. with a bachelor’s degree in applied computing, I spent two years looking for a full-time job, with no success.
As someone with Asperger Syndrome, I have a language and learning disorder, which means I sometimes have difficulty communicating my thoughts to others and understanding when they communicate theirs.
A foot in the door
I finally got my foot in the door with Accenture through a Prince’s Trust apprenticeship program, which helps people (who typically are unemployed or don’t have a college degree) develop and learn skills in a work-based program.
I believe my lack of workplace experience was hampering my success in interviews. So, even though I already earned a degree, I was granted admission to the program and enrolled in a computer IT program.
The program not only gave me the opportunity to learn new skills and gain valuable work experience; it also gave me confidence and a chance to prove myself. It helped me prepare for my interview with Accenture for a role as an incident management associate.
Understanding my condition, the Accenture team was really accommodating during the interview. It was a relaxed environment when I was explaining my experience and answering questions, and I felt comfortable and at ease. I was offered a one-month contract job, which turned into a full-time position and a few years later, a promotion.
My chance to succeed
I was nervous to start—it was the first “real” job I ever had. I didn’t know what to expect.
My apprehensions were soon calmed, as everyone on the Accenture team was supportive, helpful and encouraging. People really wanted to see me exceed—it was quite surprising.
Since joining nearly five years ago, I’m now a Third-Line Application Maintenance Support Analyst, which means I handle incidents when customers find a fault with the system they are using. Basically, when a program or application is not working properly, I advise the user how to fix it, or I raise the problem with another team to investigate.
I really enjoy the work I do. Every day is different, and as someone who is very dedicated to routine, this challenge drives me to continually learn and grow. I also love working with the latest technologies.
But it’s the people at Accenture that really made a difference in my life. This is a place where people really want to help one another.
An environment where I can thrive
As with other people with Asperger’s, I am very disciplined; when a routine task needs to be done regularly, I handle it with efficiency and diligence. However, in the line of work that I do, every day doesn’t always run smoothly. It can be challenging when issues pop up, and my day doesn’t go as planned.
Not only has Accenture given me the opportunity to prove what I can do; they’ve also provided me with any support I’ve needed along the way, so I can perform at my best. There is a true commitment to empowering persons with disabilities.
I also receive welcomed support from the U.K. Neurodiversity group, who have provided great ideas and support for people who have various disabilities. I help as a member promoting autism in the workplace.
A little patience goes a long way
I do things to help build my confidence when I’m not at work, too. I’ve been practicing karate for the past 15 years and am a 2nd Dan Black Belt. Being a black belt, whether in martial arts or as an expert in any field of expertise, means you need to commit to constantly improving yourself and increasing your level of understanding.
My advice to others working with people on the autism spectrum: Maintain a level of patience and understanding. It can take us a little longer than others to get the point across and to understand things, but we’ll get there.
I believe that equality means giving all people the opportunity to show what they can do as individuals. I’ve been given that opportunity at Accenture. Thanks to the supportive environment and commitment to inclusion and diversity, I’m gaining confidence and accomplishing my goals.
Be who you are and do work that’s transforming the way the world works and lives. Find your fit with Accenture.
If you would like to know more about U.K. Neurodiversity group, please get in touch with Ian Pilkington for more information.
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