August 25, 2017, by Carla Froggatt
My Experience on Deutsche Bank’s Autism Work Placement Scheme
By Vibusan Pathmanathan, BSc Hons Mathematics (2016)
In my final year, I approached the University’s Career and Employability Service to explore potential opportunities. I’d been diagnosed as autistic at the age of six, so I was hoping for advice tailored to my specific needs. I met with a careers adviser on a weekly basis who introduced me to EmployAbility, an organisation dedicated to assisting autistic graduates look for jobs.
Learning to cope with rejection
The time to start applying for jobs arrived. I applied to several graduate schemes, but received continuous rejections. The recruitment process just felt inaccessible for an autistic individual like myself.
The timed online tests and personality questionnaires seemed an unfair means of assessing my ‘suitability’ for graduate jobs. I felt anxious about having to complete the tests under timed conditions, and restricted by selecting ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers. I was concerned that the opportunity to express my true potential was limited. For example, the verbal reasoning tests with TRUE, FALSE or CANNOT TELL options fail to take into account that autistic people have different ways of interpreting written texts.
During this time, I also applied for various jobs in London. They varied from admin roles, which I was considered underqualified for due to my lack of ‘relevant experience’ and retail/sales positions, which I was considered overqualified for. I was genuinely frustrated by the continuous rejection. Only twice was I invited to an interview and both times I felt uneasy. When faced with the typical interview questions, I felt unable to express myself honestly and confidently .
Finding the right opportunity
In the end, it was the connections I had made with EmployAbility that led to my internship. They put me in touch with AS Mentoring, a scheme that coaches and mentors autistic people, who sent me the advert for Deutsche Bank’s autism work placement scheme.
I was truly fascinated that a global investment bank were advertising an opportunity specifically aimed at recruiting autistic graduates. As an autistic individual passionate about a career in banking, this seemed like the ideal opportunity. I went ahead and applied with renewed hope.
Different processes at Deutsche Bank
The recruitment process for Deutsche Bank was different. I was given a set of five questions and had a week to submit my answers. This was a fairer way of testing as it provided me with the flexibility to showcase my strengths and capabilities.
The interview was also a really positive experience. It was very autistic-friendly and I was able to be my true self throughout, feeling confident that I could answer the questions honestly. When I received an offer, I was incredibly proud of myself and excited to start.
On my internship
I work in the Model Risk division where I’ve been involved in various challenging projects, including creative problem solving. This experience has let me explore potential opportunities within the bank, and discover where my skills and interests lie.
The long-term advantages for employers hiring autistic individuals
First of all, employers must recognise the importance of maintaining diversity in the workplace. Diversity in any form or shape is crucial in ensuring that creativity and innovation is fostered, and different perspectives are considered when solving problems.
Secondly, autism should be viewed as a strength rather than a weakness. It should not be looked down on as a disability characterised by difficulty with social skills. Autistic employees can possess certain traits that are valuable to hiring employers: attention to detail, ability to solve problems, and commitment to work. In short, autism is not a disability, it is a different ability.
Are you looking for internship opportunities? You can find out more about Deutsche Banks’s partnership with Autistica here or if you’d prefer some one-to-one advice like Vibusan, you can book an appointment with our team through My Career.