Our Autism Advantage Program not only aims to train autistic talent for the workplace, but to place them with leading companies upon graduation. We graduated our latest cohort in May and began placing participants with companies where their skills were particularly well-matched. Three of these graduates recently accepted positions with professional services firm EY (formerly Ernst & Young) where they will apply their analytical and professional skills as account support associates in EY’s Dallas office. In 2016, EY found success with a pilot autistic talent initiative pioneered in its Philadelphia office. Eager to scale that success, EY began working Autism Advantage.
“This is about recognizing the talent of autistic individuals and offering support that allows them to successfully integrate their skills within the workplace,” said Teresa Tatum, EY Assistant Director and Account Support Associate Manager, who is also based in Dallas.“Through our initial pilot, EY found that supported autistic employees contribute equally alongside co workers. Their experience allows them to offer their teams innovative solutions and creative insights that would have otherwise been left undiscovered. From a business perspective, it is a strategic measure that increases productivity and reduces operating costs. We are fortunate that programs like Expandability’s Autism Advantage, allowed us to seamlessly hire qualified talent. Their advanced work skills, professionalism, and enthusiasm to work, are ideal employee attributes.”
Chris Morris is one of our three Autism Advantage Program graduates who will join EY in Dallas. He noted how executive coaching from companies like EY helped him develop his talents.
“There was a psychological benefit to the Autism Advantage program beyond the training,” said Morris. “It was in all the companies who came in to coach. Companies saw something in us and seeing that they were interested in recruiting from our class really brought my confidence level up.” Morris, who holds a computer science degree from Providence College and a teaching degree from Columbia University, had struggled to navigate the corporate hiring process before joining the Autism Advantage program, relying instead on a patchwork of jobs such as rental property maintenance.
“I remember the detailed feedback I received from Visa and CA Technologies on my data presentations and for the first time it felt as if my skills were validated,” said Morris.
The sentiment expressed by Morris was also found among other graduates, along with their families.
“I’m a parent who has been with my son through many disappointments, including ineffective autism programs,” said Joyce Fiaccone. “So, I wanted to express my appreciation for Expandabilty’s Autism Advantage program.” Fiaccone’s son, Daniel, will now join Morris and fellow graduate Ben McGahee in Dallas after all three accepted positions with EY. “It was a valuable experience that translated into a huge opportunity for Daniel, as well as for Chris and Ben. I know EY is very invested in making their program a success. So, I’m assured that all three are now in great positions to develop meaningful careers”. Her son Daniel agreed.
“Trust issues have been an obstacle for me,” said Daniel. “I never had a real friend until middle school, so I learned to keep to myself. By your mid-30’s most people are more focused on their careers, so it can be even harder then to make connections. In the Autism Advantage program, we get a place where we can just be us. That gives us the space to relax and dig deeper into our personal strengths. I discovered that I’m actually a great presenter and I’m good at public speaking. I now know how to personally pitch myself.”
Autism Advantage provides training and post employment support to candidates like Fiaccone, McGahee, and Morris so that they can translate their skills into careers. We also provide connections between program members and hiring managers so that companies can seamlessly hire from this trained talent set. That model is proving a success for companies like EY and a rapidly growing number of companies seeking to follow that success.
Our next six-week cohort begins on June 19 and will center on those skilled in data analytics. Interested candidates can find information on Autism Advantage here. If you are an employer interested in observing our cohort training, becoming one of our visiting corporate speakers, or in hiring from our skilled cohort class, Jack@buzzhero.io or Katee@expandability.org.