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Wednesday 19 July 2023

Helping autistic young people feel comfortable in the workplace

Charlotte, an autistic young person, completed an internship at Jupiter Asset Management through the Employ Autism programme. Jupiter Asset Management is an established fund management group. The Employ Autism team delivered training to Jupiter Asset Management before the internship, providing guidance and suggesting workplace adjustments to ensure a welcoming start for Charlotte. This training is hugely beneficial to both employers and interns.


Before starting the internship

Charlotte was nervous before starting her internship, and the team at Jupiter supported her by creating workplace adjustments that would meet her needs and ensure she would get the most out of the placement. This blog outlines the benefits of these adjustments and the difference they can make to an autistic employee.

Before starting the internship, Jupiter provided Charlotte with a slide deck containing one-page introductions to the team members that she would be working with. This is a great tool to support interns starting a conversation with new colleagues. It helped Charlotte feel more relaxed and at ease talking to the team as she already knew a bit about them.


The first day of the internship

On her first day, Charlotte felt nervous about getting on the London Underground and travelling to places she hadn’t been to before. Jupiter provided a map showing how to get to the office building from the tube and what the building looked like from the outside, so Charlotte knew what to expect.

“I felt more confident getting from the tube to the building and locating it more easily.”

Charlotte also felt nervous about knowing what to say to reception when she arrived on her first day, so Jupiter gave her a guide with a sample sentence and the information she needed to give to the receptionist. Because of this, Charlotte felt more relaxed when she arrived.

“I felt less anxious about saying the wrong thing or forgetting to provide the required information.”


One-to-one support

Jupiter’s IT trainer was also available to provide one-to-one help for Charlotte in her first few days to ease her concerns about setting up and using the IT software. Charlotte said: “I felt that I could ask the IT trainer questions about any areas I was unsure of and that she would go through them with me, step-by-step. I ended up feeling confident using the IT systems that had been new to me at the start.”

Charlotte was worried she’d find it hard to remember new systems, so her buddy created a step-by-step document including screenshots and descriptions to guide her through the system. Charlotte said:

“There was no need to memorise multiple steps as I could refer to the guide at any point and feel certain that I was taking the right steps without needing to check in with anyone else.”


Learning new skills

Whilst on her placement Charlotte also had the opportunity to participate in educational and social sessions organised for those on the Investment20/20 scheme. The trainee programme offers opportunities across the investment industry to people with different backgrounds, educations and skills. The sessions facilitate additional learning and networking opportunities. As a result, she developed a deeper understanding of the company and the industry. It was also a chance to network with peers, and she formed some strong ties, which no doubt will benefit her in the future.

Charlotte’s time at Jupiter was a learning opportunity for the company too. From the recruitment process through to the day-to-day work, the company has benefitted from seeing which areas work well for an autistic employee and which areas may need more consideration, for example, providing an employee who is sensitive to sound with a quieter working space.