As any young person would be, Ben was nervous when he began looking for his first job. Beyond the normal anxiety about possessing the skills required for a particular job, Ben also wondered if his autism would affect an employer’s hiring decision. Specifically, while he didn’t want autism to disqualify his application, he also didn’t want any special favors. Ben wanted to earn a job strictly on his merits.
Ben found such an opportunity at Bittersweet, Inc., as a team member in the Culinary/Gardens area. His work involves harvesting organically grown produce in the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) greenhouse, along with packaging and delivering CSA boxes to area food pantries. In the kitchen, Ben’s responsibilities include baking cookies and making Pesto and Tomato Chutney—all tasty items that Bittersweet sells to support its autism programming.
Ben also spends one morning each week at an area kennel, playing and interacting with dogs that are attending daycare and providing them the attention they crave.
Ben credits employment at Bittersweet with turning him into a productive, mature adult. He’s proud that, by demonstrating his capabilities, he has earned his coworkers’ trust. They know “that I can be trusted with certain jobs without having to be prompted several times,” says Ben. And gaining that trust, in turn, has boosted Ben’s confidence in his daily work routines.
They know “that I can be trusted with certain jobs without having to be prompted several times.”
Long-term, Ben aspires to work with computers, either as a technician or in data entry. He feels he offers potential employers many great ideas for accomplishing different jobs, especially those that require hard work.
But for now, Ben loves his current job, his assignments, and the people with whom he works. “I really like how the staff treats me,” adds Ben. “It’s as if I’m a family member as well as a coworker.”
Ben’s advice for others looking for jobs is simple: “Look for a job that best suits your skills and talents. Make sure you look presentable and be prepared. Most importantly, be confident in yourself.”
For those beginning a new job, Ben suggests starting out by practicing. “Make sure you know what your abilities are and that you feel comfortable.”
Ben still prefers getting opportunities solely on his merits. Thanks to his successful transition to work at Bittersweet, Ben’s merits are multiplying.