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Ongoing problems with unemployment and interviews. Aspergers, specialised degree.

  • 27-02-2021 3:00am
    #1
    Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 2,254 ✭✭✭ Nqp15hhu


    I don’t know if this is the most suitable place to put this post. Could you please relocate it if need be?

    ________________________________

    So, the scope of this post is to outline my experience with Aspergers unemployment. I am struggling with gaining entry into the workforce and I am not sure what to do.

    For an introduction, I am 25 years of age, I was diagnosed with Aspergers at aged 16. I live in Northern Ireland. I have struggled with the more social aspects of the condition, my condition being mild it can be hard to spot initially, but becomes more obvious with time.

    Education wise, I have 3 A levels. I attended a university in Southern England for a few years. I graduated in July of 2019, with a bachelor of science (Hons) in Meteorology (the study of weather). This is a very specialised degree that I regret studying. The maths was highly challenging and brought my overall grade down, I had to spend a lot of time indoors studying the maths. I was told about the maths in the course but it was not emphasised to me that the breadth of the course would be half maths based.

    Anyway, throughout my time in England I struggled to fit in. I didn’t face any abuse or adversity. However, I found the local southern English to be very closed off, unfriendly and cliquey. It was very difficult to make any inroads socially, so I only made a friend in the final year. During my time there, I was continually isolated and depressed, I binge ate a lot. I still maintained fitness in the gym. I had developed a lot of independence that someone with Aspergers wouldn’t typically have, flying back and forth between Belfast and London once a month, every month. This alongside my monthly day trips to London mean’t that I had no problem travelling about in England alone. Whilst I have met people with Aspergers who can’t drive yet and need family or friends to go on a simple trip to the supermarket.

    One thing that was not emphasised (at least not until the end) at my university was work experience. It was raised once or twice but no great emphasis. This is a major mistake that I made in not getting an industry related internship.

    ________

    Moving forward into unemployment. Since graduating, I have only worked six months. Three months at a university (unrelated to my degree) internship and 3 months recently in a retail establishment. I performed very well in both jobs, however, not being very social I think kept me back. Particularly in the retail job, I think the staff thought I was very weird. Although they made no efforts to include me, socially (didn’t talk to me. Tatted on to me to the managers. Complained about me in front of me, but didn’t offer to help etc.) In fact near the end, the people in my department would avoid coming in on the days I was there, which was extremely hurtful.

    (Truth be told I heard the manager saying that these people were jealous of me. I wouldn’t be surprised as I had a very high output, they did not like that. I was given digs about this a few times. This is something I worry about in future jobs, I am a person who just goes to work to work. I don’t know how I am going to be able to handle this without rattling extroverted/lazy coworkers).

    Anyway, beyond that I have spent a lot of time trying to get a job. I have applied for hundreds and hundreds of jobs in all sorts of sectors. I have been to over 50 interviews this year (I had one interview which was unsuccessful two days ago). I have no problem getting interviews, writing cover letters or passing psychometric tests. I have had interviews for some high caliber jobs for ex a statistician.

    The problem is that I cannot get past these interviews. No matter how much I practise I struggle. I am a very neurotic and anxious person, I am highly perceptive to others body language and moods. I struggle to put across my enthusiasm and interest in the job, I don’t feel comfortable pretending to be jovial in front of strangers, it’s all very fake. I am also quite aware of others body language and can see their interest in me fading as I go further into the interview, for ex, the interview the other day, the woman kept fidgeting, looked uncomfortable and was using her phone. This showed me that she was disinterested and put me off big time. I forgot most of my answers and stuttered/struggled.

    I have gone through a couple of practise of interviews and am constantly told that I sound disinterested.

    I don’t think I can do anything about this. I am just not good at interviews and it’s my downfall in getting a job.

    _______

    I would also like to talk about employment in the Meteorology field. This is where I feel particularly depressed and saddened.

    I have a lot of interest in the weather. I have a personal £1500 weather station which I have uploaded online. I spend a lot of time looking at weather models etc. This does not seem to be impressive to the meteorology companies.

    I have had about 10 interviews for jobs in the field since graduation. The closest I have got to a job in the field was a 2nd interview. Time and time again an issue that comes up is lack of experience. Nearly every Meteorology job I come across requests experience. However, there are no internships opportunities for graduates, in the U.K. all of the internships are for undergraduates studying a degree with a placement year. So you can’t do a meteorology internship without being on a placement. I have sent cover letters to several companies asking for opportunities, to no avail.

    One company, which I will not name is a major employer. One thing I regret putting on the initial application form is my Aspergers. Because it was a large company I thought it would help me, however, I think it was to my detriment. As I get the impression that they are highly rules based. I attended two assessment centres with this company and failed both of them.

    This company hires people with A level physics and non meteorology degrees so that stands out as odd to me, that I would be rejected twice with a Meteorology degree. The company places a high emphasis on being social. During the process, I did notice they kept talking about being friendly with your coworkers which I found odd. I noticed they were watching me to see if I would communicate when at lunch. I did try to talk to people but felt very uncomfortable knowing that they were observing me.

    During the interview, the people interviewing me spoke to me in a patronising voice and seemed quite negative towards me as a person. One asking “so why are you here for a second time”.

    Anyway, this year I applied again. The job was military based, I noted one person from the military organisation was looking at my LinkedIn profile. I received a rejection email the other day. I am pretty sure this is because of my diagnosis of Aspergers. They put a no response note on the bottom so I cannot ask why. But I am aware and have noted that her military organisation does not hire those with an ASD diagnosis.

    So, I don’t think this company wants to higher me due to my diagnosis of Aspergers. Why else would they higher somebody with a level physics but reject myself with a degree in Meteorology?

    Honestly, I feel so hurt and depressed about this. I have a huge interest in the weather and have spent so much time trying to improve my knowledge and experience. I went out of my way to decrease my 1.5 mile down to 11 mins in the rare chance that I would be called for the military test. But no this company does not want to give me a chance, they will not look past my diagnosis. They do not see that people with Aspergers have a variety of skills and abilities, that it is not a one size fits all approach.

    But no, nothing I do will get me a job in this industry. There is just no easy way to enter the industry. There is very few opportunities to gain experience and employers do not want to help.

    So I have this meteorology degree and feel that it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. I really don’t know what to do at this stage. I have been unemployed for a long time and can’t get a job because I struggle in interviews.


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,337 ✭✭✭ Ulysses1874


    Two thoughts in response to your post.


    First, your qualification:


    I'm assuming that you have a degree qualification at what we call NFQ level 8. You might consider pushing on for a level 9 Masters qualification. I'm suggesting that for three reasons:



    (1) this is a crap time to be trying to land a job, and even if we get a post-Covid recovery the jobs market could be shaky for a while, so further study might give you a diversion while the market recovers;


    (2) A level 9 qualification would add value for you in the market, regardless of when or where you do it;


    (3) It could help you diversify from the metereology discipline that you reckon is overly specialised. In doing a Masters you don't necessarily have to specialise in the area you've already covered in the degree. You could branch out from the maths to other science stuff you covered at primary degree level, or maybe diversify even further.


    The downside? Money. A post-graduate programme costs, and you're not earning while you're studying.


    But it could be worth it and it might be worth looking around a few college websites and getting on the phone if you see anything that appeals to you. The golden test of a course is if you like the look and feel of it, and if it would take your learning into a different zone to what you have already.




    Secondly: a direct and to the point suggestion.


    Have you heard of this crew? Aspierations. They're based in London


    In their words: "Our aim to to build a bridge between business and talented people within the Asperger community to improve employment opportunities for mutual benefit."

    I have no idea how good they are, but they say that's their mission and you sound like someone who could benefit from that mission.

    Here's a link to them, and a link to a media story about someone's positive experience of them and of the workplace. A fella aged 25.


    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/autism-in-workplace/working-with-aspergers/


    https://www.aspierations.org/about-us/46/


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,337 ✭✭✭ Ulysses1874


    P.S. This is my first post on boards in 5 years. I quit posting because sadly the management here have a couple of very bigoted blind spots.


    Your post was worth breaking my silence and giving it a reply, and hopefully my suggestions above will help point you in a right direction. Gach rath ort; the best of luck to you.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,519 ✭✭✭ GalwayGrrrrrl


    Have you thought about working in meteorology research? Your hard working attitude and intelligence would be ideal for this. You would need to study for a PhD first but a lot of PhDs come with funding to cover your living expenses. It can be competitive to get into these programmes so be prepared to apply to several universities. Sometimes it can be good to get a masters first and make sure you do some research during the masters (this will help your PhD application).


  • Registered Users Posts: 796 ✭✭✭ kathleen37


    There is also an Aspergers Ireland website that seems to offer career advice among their other services.

    https://www.aspireireland.ie/cmsWP/aspire-career-supports/

    You're doing all the right things. I sincerely wish you all the best.

    Good luck!


  • Registered Users Posts: 691 ✭✭✭ jmlad2020


    Seems the main issue is you're worried about fitting in, how you come across to others and your lack of social ability.

    You need to move past this if you want to get anywhere in life. Don't be so hard in yourself.. learn to walk into a room and frame your personality, don't let it be influenced by the body language or tone of others or how they think. Autism will impair this I know but your experience living abroad and going to Uni has obviously helped you somewhat. Build on this.

    I have learned the hard way. Fake it til you make it or you don't stand a chance. If you need to take a year out to work on your social skills please do. Yes even something like volunteering at a Charity Shop will help... You might have no interest in this but will do wonders for you.. self improvement. Read help books etc.

    Regarding finding a job, no-one can be too picky these days. Apply for something that you may fleetingly have interest in. Don't expect to get the top jobs off the bat. You need to work your way up the ladder like everyone else. You can email random companies and ask for unpaid work experience, stating you wish to gain experience in the sector, which can sometimes turn into a full time offer. State you have Asperger's if you like. The right employer will welcome this


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  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 2,254 ✭✭✭ Nqp15hhu


    Two thoughts in response to your post.


    First, your qualification:


    I'm assuming that you have a degree qualification at what we call NFQ level 8. You might consider pushing on for a level 9 Masters qualification. I'm suggesting that for three reasons:



    (1) this is a crap time to be trying to land a job, and even if we get a post-Covid recovery the jobs market could be shaky for a while, so further study might give you a diversion while the market recovers;


    (2) A level 9 qualification would add value for you in the market, regardless of when or where you do it;


    (3) It could help you diversify from the metereology discipline that you reckon is overly specialised. In doing a Masters you don't necessarily have to specialise in the area you've already covered in the degree. You could branch out from the maths to other science stuff you covered at primary degree level, or maybe diversify even further.


    The downside? Money. A post-graduate programme costs, and you're not earning while you're studying.


    But it could be worth it and it might be worth looking around a few college websites and getting on the phone if you see anything that appeals to you. The golden test of a course is if you like the look and feel of it, and if it would take your learning into a different zone to what you have already.




    Secondly: a direct and to the point suggestion.


    Have you heard of this crew? Aspierations. They're based in London


    In their words: "Our aim to to build a bridge between business and talented people within the Asperger community to improve employment opportunities for mutual benefit."

    I have no idea how good they are, but they say that's their mission and you sound like someone who could benefit from that mission.

    Here's a link to them, and a link to a media story about someone's positive experience of them and of the workplace. A fella aged 25.


    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/autism-in-workplace/working-with-aspergers/


    https://www.aspierations.org/about-us/46/

    Thank you for your considered response. I have just finished another round of interviews and received one rejection now (again for the same company). I have genuinely been rejected for positions that I was perfect for, that I had met all of the essential AND desirable criteria. At this point I have no idea what I am supposed to do to get a job.

    I have spent £80 this past month attending interview sessions with two separate individuals. I took on board everything that they have said and still end up back at square one. Trust me when I say that I have tried a lot of different things to get a job.

    As someone diagnosed with Asperger's I know it is the interviews that are failing me. It's not an easy issue, it's a worry and something I am concerned about. I AM at my wits end with the interview process.

    If I were to study a Masters, I would have no idea what to do now in terms of subject areas. I then have the question of wondering if a Masters would even be worth it? Would I still be in this position a year later, with no job?

    I want to take concrete steps at this point, but don't know where to turn to. I have tried to gain career advice and am left with vague responses and people who won't be honest with what I should do.

    The other problem is the inability to get a retail job etc due to my degree, to tide me over at the moment.

    I am going to try to diverge off from my degree field and get a job elsewhere.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 2,254 ✭✭✭ Nqp15hhu


    Have you thought about working in meteorology research? Your hard working attitude and intelligence would be ideal for this. You would need to study for a PhD first but a lot of PhDs come with funding to cover your living expenses. It can be competitive to get into these programmes so be prepared to apply to several universities. Sometimes it can be good to get a masters first and make sure you do some research during the masters (this will help your PhD application).

    I apologise but I have no interest in research. At this point, I want a job.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 2,254 ✭✭✭ Nqp15hhu


    jmlad2020 wrote: »
    Seems the main issue is you're worried about fitting in, how you come across to others and your lack of social ability.

    You need to move past this if you want to get anywhere in life. Don't be so hard in yourself.. learn to walk into a room and frame your personality, don't let it be influenced by the body language or tone of others or how they think. Autism will impair this I know but your experience living abroad and going to Uni has obviously helped you somewhat. Build on this.

    I have learned the hard way. Fake it til you make it or you don't stand a chance. If you need to take a year out to work on your social skills please do. Yes even something like volunteering at a Charity Shop will help... You might have no interest in this but will do wonders for you.. self improvement. Read help books etc.

    Regarding finding a job, no-one can be too picky these days. Apply for something that you may fleetingly have interest in. Don't expect to get the top jobs off the bat. You need to work your way up the ladder like everyone else. You can email random companies and ask for unpaid work experience, stating you wish to gain experience in the sector, which can sometimes turn into a full time offer. State you have Asperger's if you like. The right employer will welcome this

    The problem (and not to be rude) though is that this does matter. I know that I am not gaining traction because of interviews, I know it. Why otherwise would I do 5+ interviews this month and still be stuck in limbo without a job?


  • Registered Users Posts: 796 ✭✭✭ kathleen37


    Nqp15hhu wrote: »
    The problem (and not to be rude) though is that this does matter. I know that I am not gaining traction because of interviews, I know it. Why otherwise would I do 5+ interviews this month and still be stuck in limbo without a job?

    Because there are always way more people searching for jobs than jobs available.

    It could just be that you are up against better, more qualified or more experienced candidates.

    Have you asked for feedback from the recruitment teams you're dealing with? I really suggest either phoning or emailing and see what they say. I really could just be that there was someone with more experience than you.

    Good luck.


  • Registered Users Posts: 91 ✭✭ Maxface


    I am in no way qualified at all to give advice but from a personal point of view I wish you the best of luck. I noticed some of your posts on another forum and can only get some idea of who you are from that. My opinion was somewhat negative in your interactions with others. I had no idea of you having Aspergers so took it at face value. You mentioned about working in retail and your interactions with coworkers had been difficult and their actions had been hurtful, I have no doubt they where and I don't know if they had been made aware of you having Aspergers or if that would have helped, workplaces can be hurtful places and the reality is that some staff just want to come in, get paid and go home while others would walk over you and your mother to get ahead.

    I see it all the time about well qualified people looking for jobs, applying to hundreds of places before even getting an interview. Your getting interviews so take that as a positive. Keep your head up and keep applying, you have what some workplace wants and it's a matter of time before you get together. You mentioned about noticing some disinterest in interviewers, about struggling to be jovial and finding it fake and so on, I get that, I have similar in that I feel that I can read people very easily and pick up on small things. I'm definitely hypersensitive in situations like that and the reality is that most times I am wrong. This 'fake it until you make it' thing has been the biggest thing that has gotten me ahead in my life. In social situations, I'll happily stand up in a crowd and make a speech but the reality is that it is the worst thing in the world for me. These interviews you are going to, they are already happy with your qualifications for example so now it's more about do or would they fit in. That's where the personality part comes in to the interview.

    You more than likely struggle with that with Aspergers. I don't know what the answer is at all, I think there is cognitive behaviour treatments available that would concentrate more on social situations that would help much more for interviews that the mechanics of an interview and then going forward in interacting with colleagues which is as important in work than just working to a point.

    I do wish you well and I know it will work out for you.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 131 ✭✭ BalboBiggins


    Contact the following company: https://www.specialisterneni.com/


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