Friday, May 16, 2014

Career Enhancement

Last month, my company went through major downsizing, losing well over half our workforce as a result. That included me as part of the purge. My employers didn't want to drop me, but they could only keep so many essential employees who had a role in the still-existing initiatives. So this is basically another journey in between jobs; I doubt anyone likes not being able to leave a position on one's own terms. I definitely don't like the pattern of this happening. However, I'm confident in my ability to land on my feet sooner than later. It just takes a lot of effort, to say the least.

One thing that many of us on the spectrum struggle with is, to put it bluntly, networking. We get nervous on having to talk to strangers and folks we don't normally interact alongside daily. It has taken me some effort to talk to a few contacts that I haven't been in touch with for some time, to explain my situation, and then see what they can do for me while asking about return favors. Similar situation to obtaining two of my three references for graduate school. After a conversation with my mom one afternoon about the hunt, she asked me about resources I potentially had not tapped. I then found a great article on how not to reach out to contacts, and attempted to do the exact opposite. There has been some success so far, as I have a few interviews which kept me from finishing this post. I've had big interviews this week, and another major one on the way.

During this time, however, I'm also taking advantage of opportunities for training. I will be attending a state scholarship session next week to find out if I can secure the necessary monies to take part in MCSA course training for at least one of the three exams. During the summer without MBA classes, I figure I should finally take advantage of this and possibly get discounts on the exams themselves. Then there is also the community. I did some increased volunteer work with the Autism Society of North Carolina and was able to share information about my search while I was at it.

So how do I relate this to Asperger's? Simply put, networking is difficult when you don't want to make a bad impression, and training is hard to approach without assistance. We often doubt we will find ourselves in a good employment situation, not even realizing the skills we possess beyond the logical. Soft skills get developed over time, but often it comes down to the what and what not to do tutorials and examples that I shouldn't rehash on here. There are two books worth checking out regardless of industry, if having doubts.

Thankfully, there has been a ton of encouragement, and blogs presented by friends who are totally neurotypical (check out Reinvent Your Wheel and you will be encouraged) on to all of the spectrum entries from the past have helped. I have also remembered a couple pointers from a previous GRASP Philly session on employment, where a career coach helped answer questions like the ones above: to keep eye contact and remain natural. It just takes some time and some patience, as I'm finding out now that the jobs are interviewing for me.

UPDATE (5/17): A great company presented me with a great offer. We come full circle.