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New program at RIT helps students with autism prepare for jobs

July 06, 2018 07:20 AM

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, but for people with autism, they can be even tougher. However, a new program at RIT is making that process easier. 

The Career Ready Boot Camp and Neurodiverse Hiring Initiative at RIT are giving students with autism the confidence they need to land a job and work in an office full of people.

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Adam Ledet is studying game design at RIT and through the Spectrum Support Program, he is creating an app.

"I'm using exact things I've learned in class, exact coding techniques to make something real and I feel like a valuable member of the team," Ledet says.

The program helped him secure an internship at Second Avenue Learning with the Career Ready Boot Camp. It's a job he says most students don't secure.

"This is a position that I love being in and this is ideal," Ledet says.

Ledet has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism.

"To get this experience of being able to empathize and communicate with people difficult and painstaking at times but necessary," Ledet says.

Janine Rowe, assistant director of Careers and Disability at RIT's Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education, says this program is also helping employers.

"Organizations that embrace neurodiversity will find that their teams are communicating better, their projects and services are more inclusive and they really have a deep positive impact on the organizations that they work for," Rowe says.

Rowe works with CEOs like Victoria Van Vorhis at Second Avenue Learning to place students in internships.

"We have seen firsthand the impact a program like this can have," Van Vorhis says. "We wanted to be one of the first companies to create this pathway to create this school to work transition."

Ledet is grateful for the smooth transition.

"The first day I got here, I had no idea what I was doing, but now that I'm here, I know to sit down and get to work and do my stuff and that will apply to any job in the future," Ledet says.

Students get a stipend for participating in the program. At Second Avenue Learning, most of their employees started off as interns so students like Ledet have a high chance of getting hired full-time.

Officials at RIT are currently looking for more employers to participate in the program.

Credits

Kaci Jones

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