Accommodating the spectrum
“I have autism spectrum disorder and bipolar disorder. I applied for ASD’s graduate program in 2016. It took me a long time to reach a stage where I could handle an assessment centre situation. The main reason I did post-graduate studies at university is because I wasn't ready for the real world yet. (The second reason was that science is fun, which is also a good reason.) And even after this self-imposed delay I still found myself continuously outside my comfort zone during the assessment and interviews. You could argue that if I can't handle an assessment centre, I can't handle the job, but I'd argue my work history, ability to balance work and study, and academic results say otherwise.
I have certainly found ASD to be an environment that is more accommodating and comfortable for people on the spectrum than many government organisations - or other large organisations for that matter. I think ASD offers some unique types of work, being highly cognitive and not always relying on natural social skills, to achieve great outcomes. Many neural-diverse people gravitate towards and excel in that kind of work.”
Female staff member
I get to work on interesting problems with smart colleagues
“I studied a double degree of software engineering and neuroscience at university. Originally I wanted to be a scientist and just wanted to learn some programming for fun. Growing up, I loved video games and computers. Somewhere during the 5 years I spent studying, I realised I actually enjoy software development a lot so I changed my mind about the kind of job I wanted. While I was studying I worked at my university's IT help desk. After graduating I joined ASD as part of its graduate program, and have been working as a software developer here since. I do Windows development and work mostly with C and Python. I enjoy my job because I get to work on interesting problems with smart colleagues. I've had the opportunity to learn a lot of new skills, both through formal training courses and on-the-job learning. I like the flexible hours provided and the emphasis on work-life balance. I get to work on hard problems while at work, but still have the time to enjoy my hobbies outside of work.”
Female software developer
A vital mission
“I've always had an interest in programming; as a primary school student I typed out hundreds of lines of code from a magazine in order to create a game. Unfortunately I made a typo at some point and had no idea how to interpret an unintelligible error message to find the problem and make the game work.
Despite that setback, my interest in computers didn't wane, and my studies at university before coming to ASD were focused on programming, networking and security. I initially worked in a role overseeing the accreditation of network security from a policy and technical standpoint, before working in a job that is primarily programming. I work directly with customers on both long-term projects and writing tools to be used on the same day they are finished. Whether coding in C or writing Python scripts, debugging or researching obscure software behaviour, or looking at packet captures and examining security measures, there's always something new and interesting to work on.
It's great to see my work being used for something more than profit on a company's balance sheet, and the ability to work extra hours one week so I can knock off early or take a whole day off the next is a definite bonus. That's excellent for me in winter as I'll take a long weekend to hit the slopes on a snowboard! Ditch your image of the stereotypical geek - you're likely to see me or my workmates on the sports field, at the pub, or chewing the fat over the latest Game of Thrones episode, we just happen to like coding and computers as well.”
Male software developer