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Employ Autism

Friday 26 January 2024

How adjustments helped me integrate into the workplace

After I graduated last year, I was searching for new jobs through many jobsites (e.g. Indeed). I spent more time browsing opportunities through the Employ Autism programme, as it advertised internships that help autistic people like me integrate into the workplace, including BP’s six month Talent Attraction Internship. That one interested me the most as I had all the listed qualities; an undergraduate degree, writing experience, and data analysis abilities.

I chose to research BP further, to help me understand whether it was the best choice for me before applying. To my delight, I discovered that BP is one of the world’s biggest energy organisations, committed to supporting everyone, including autistic people. Impressed by BP’s commitment to recruiting and nurturing neurodivergent talent, I immediately knew I wanted to apply.


The job application process

I was set a task as part of the application process. I had to browse BP’s website, collect the right content and design a newsletter encouraging readers to apply for a job at BP. Unlike traditional cover letters, it allowed me to show my job-specific skills, and it gave me an idea of what would be involved in the role. When BP offered me an interview a month later, I joyously accepted it.

I worked with a member of the Employ Autism team to develop a candidate profile with my internship details, interests, skills, and reasonable adjustments, including a little extra time to understand instructions and complete tasks. This was shared with the hiring manager before my virtual interview, hoping he would accept most of my requests.  He exceeded my expectations, sending me the interview questions a whole day in advance. This allowed me to prepare my answers thoroughly, deliver them fluently, and get hired.


Requesting reasonable adjustments

My manager scheduled daily morning meetings so I could report on my progress, discuss tasks for the day and I could ask questions I had about my role or office etiquette. In the initial days, these meetings were very helpful. As I became more confident in my role, I relied on them less but it was nice to know they were available if I needed support. In addition, I was allowed to work both at home and in the office and I learned that hybrid working was beneficial for me as it helped me manage my time and workload more effectively. I found travelling by public transport difficult, so I applied to Access to Work, a government programme, which funded my taxi journeys so I could get to the office.

During my internship, I learned that BP offers several adjustments to help many neurodivergent employees thrive at work, such as one-page profiles to help newcomers get to know colleagues better before meeting them. Personally, I enjoyed speaking to new people without them, but I appreciate others may find them useful for preparing and starting new conversations.

When working at BP Sunbury office, I noticed other adjustments included a wellbeing room, yoga sessions, noise cancelling headphones and fidget spinners.  BP can also customise people’s working routines to their specific needs. One colleague shared with me that had worked with the HR team so they could avoid the weekly fire alarm check as they were very sensitive to the loud noise. BP also offers a variety of networking opportunities, such as volunteering events organised by the Neurodiversity Network. During those events, we delivered branded merchandise, educational resources about autism, and brought more members to the network.


Applying for jobs in the future

For future applications, I have learned that we can share our neurodivergent identity and skills in the cover letter, to optimise our prospects of being recruited.  Once we get offered an interview, we can share our preferred interview adjustments to the recruitment team through a separate email. Once we pass the interview, we can share our preferred workplace adjustments to our manager or HR team and discuss what can be put in place to work well for everyone.


The Employ Autism team

The Employ Autism team at Ambitious about Autism regularly emailed me job alerts, keeping me up to date on the latest internships. Furthermore, in my experience, the Employ Autism team give faster responses and more information than other jobsites, which helped me get things done faster. In my one-to-one sessions, I got great guidance on job searching, CV and cover letter writing so I recommend looking for jobs through the Employ Autism programme.