Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

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Zillions
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Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by Zillions »

My high functioning autistic teenager (under 18) is looking for jobs. She's very naive and has significant challenges with social skills. She's intelligent but can come off seeming to be "slow" due to the way she talks and communicates verbally (might be due to the autism). Ironically, her written communication is excellent, and shows refinement in both thought & language, something entirely belied by her challenges with the spoken language & poor social skills.

So far, she's having troubled getting hired. My husband thinks it might be best if one of the big retail chains gave her a chance, despite her initial presentation as awkward and challenged but I believe a smaller employer might be better because it might involve fewer people around her, and therefore seem less intimidating to her. She was almost hired at a small local business a few days ago but I got nervous when I realized she had to drop off fulfilled orders at customers' homes or job sites. Given her naivete, I don't trust her to visit strangers' homes or jobs just yet.

I'm aware that I cannot protect her forever, so do you have interview tips for kids like her? Should she mention her disability in her resume? I'm worried she may not even get to an interview if she did. It's obvious enough as soon as she opens her mouth to speak, but at least right now she's getting interviews even if she's not getting hired.

And I know this sounds paranoid & premature, but If she did take a job that required delivery, how should I ensure her safety?

But how can I help get that job, first? Would a big chain really be better & more likely to hire her than a small business would? If you were a hiring manager, what might persuade you to give an otherwise qualified but socially awkward teen a chance? How can I help her improve her odds of getting that first job?

Please advice. Thanks!
123
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by 123 »

I would agree that large retailers, like a Target, Walmart, or Macy's, are more likely to have positions that may be suitable for her and have programs to employ the "differently abled". If you are in a metropolitan area there is a chance that local city/county/state governments could also have such programs. Depending on your state the local unemployment office may also be aware of special initiatives.
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Bogle7
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by Bogle7 »

Try to find a job using her written skills.
For example, a PR agency.
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fabdog
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by fabdog »

Well, a job that utilizes her skills and minimizes her struggles would be awesome... She wouldn't want to be the person at the front entrance greeting everyone and answering questions... but perhaps when she has the interview mention her strengths and things she's not as comfortable with, and a good hiring manager will slot her into a job that fits better.

It will likely be easier at a bigger retail location than a smaller place with 3-4 employees, where they'll expect/need everyone to do all the roles.

I wouldn't mention the issue on a resume, but discuss in an interview. At least in our area, retail/restaurants/tourist places are desperate for people... she can get hired. She just needs to find a place willing to work with her.

Does she have friends/school acquaintances with similar skill sets? Where have they found jobs? Does her school have any suggestions based on their knowledge of the local area?

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KlangFool
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by KlangFool »

Bogle7 wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 10:33 am Try to find a job using her written skills.
For example, a PR agency.
+1,000. Or, online chat support person.

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OldBallCoach
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by OldBallCoach »

Most larger companies embrace hiring people with different abilities..one of the folks that works for me went in with her Downs son to a larger national food chain and had a sit down with the HR folks..3 year later that kid is a rock star and they love him. It about finding what their jam is then working to get a great fit. You are already skilled with this if you have gotten your kid though school a job should be an easy find!
skp
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by skp »

I'm thinking of jobs that have less interaction with the public. Working at a grocery store stocking, bagging, shopping. I see a lot of baggers that appear "slow". How about page at the library? Our local library has several openings.
stoptothink
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by stoptothink »

OldBallCoach wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 10:40 am Most larger companies embrace hiring people with different abilities..one of the folks that works for me went in with her Downs son to a larger national food chain and had a sit down with the HR folks..3 year later that kid is a rock star and they love him. It about finding what their jam is then working to get a great fit. You are already skilled with this if you have gotten your kid though school a job should be an easy find!
I work for one of the larger private companies in my area and happen to be high-functioning autistic myself. My employer has an internship program in collaboration with two local autism services; we've hired a few dozen people through this internship for full-time positions, everything from call center to software developers. I also used to volunteer for a mentorship program through Easter Seals where I would help 16-20yr olds on the spectrum who had no previous employment prepare for their first jobs. I helped ASD individuals get jobs at museums, movie theatres, fast food; you name it. I would do some quick research to find out if there are similar programs in your area.
hi_there
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by hi_there »

If you want to mention the autism in a job application, I think it's better to write a cover letter that says "As someone who has been diagnosed with autism, I admire your company's commitment to representing the needs of all communities" or something like that. It's better to be upfront if you think that it will be a material factor in the job.

Also, I guess you have already explored this, but are there any job support or training programs that might help place her in a job?
aerofreaky11
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by aerofreaky11 »

I'm not sure what state you're in but there are agencies that assist young adults with disabilities. In New York you would possibly be able to work with opwdd or access VR for example.

In some states, these agencies assist with placement as well as job coaching in the early months.

If your team had an IEP in school that may qualify for assistance.
Jack FFR1846
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

Try grocery stores. Our local chain employs people with challenges as baggers all the time.
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OnTrack2020
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by OnTrack2020 »

We have been through this. Unfortunately, the social skills will stick out like a sore thumb and practicing working on them is not going to make it any better. Send her as she is to the interview--dress up nicely, have a short resume with references, and have her tell the prospective employer about her wonderful writing and good attendance, being punctual, etc.

Delivering packages to homes or job sites is a terrific job as she is working independently. Am assuming she is also good with directions and reading maps, so knows her way around the city/town. Most people aren't home, and the package is left at the door. I'm assuming not that many people have to sign for packages.

Do not mention the disability on the resume. And on the application form, it's really up to you if you want to "check" the box that asks. I don't really think it makes a difference, and with the economy opening up, employers are going to soon see shortages of workers.

Most jobs you are going to want to look at and, I assume you are already doing it, are those jobs where independence can be maintained and the child can be in more of a solo position or role. I'm not sure a smaller company is necessarily a better type of company. You just want to look at how much interaction the child will be having with people during the day. You will not be able to ensure her safety because we live in an unsafe world. I think you can track her phone somehow, however.

Honestly, if your child has a really good attendance record at school, an employer will probably hire her in a heartbeat. I can't tell you how many stories I hear about kids who are hired and quit in a few months or just never show up for work.
terran
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by terran »

A lot of people seem to be suggesting finding jobs that minimize customer interaction, but I think that depends on her goals for this job. Is she looking to work on her social skills or is she happy with where she's at? Is she looking for a career or is this just to earn some money and/or develop some soft skills? Do you actually care if she gets a job right now or might she better off seeking some kind of training/education and/or volunteer opportunities that would offer her better opportunities down the road? Basically, I think the question to ask is what the end goal is and work back from there.
stoptothink
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by stoptothink »

OnTrack2020 wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 10:58 am We have been through this. Unfortunately, the social skills will stick out like a sore thumb and practicing working on them is not going to make it any better.
I completely disagree, as someone who has faced this himself, and feel this is the biggest issue in parenting of high-functioning ASD children. Of course it is a spectrum, but most high-functioning ASD individuals need to be forced to push their comfort boundaries. Social situations are incredibly uncomfortable for me, and actually physically draining, but that doesn't mean I am totally incapable of handling them. There wasn't the same awareness or resources when I was growing up (the 90's) as there is today, so my mom had to treat me the same as my other siblings. My first job (at 15) was in fast food, it was very hard but I developed social skills and progressed as I constantly was put in positions where I had to challenge myself. I have a very public-facing professional career now. Social skills are not inherent, but they can be improved.
oldfatguy
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by oldfatguy »

aerofreaky11 wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 10:50 am I'm not sure what state you're in but there are agencies that assist young adults with disabilities. In New York you would possibly be able to work with opwdd or access VR for example.

In some states, these agencies assist with placement as well as job coaching in the early months.
This^^^ Is she eligible for your state's Voc Rehab program?
delamer
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by delamer »

Shelf-stocking jobs require minimal contact with others, if that is the type of job she’d be best suited to.

Good luck with the search.
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barnaclebob
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by barnaclebob »

skp wrote: Thu May 06, 2021 10:43 am I'm thinking of jobs that have less interaction with the public. Working at a grocery store stocking, bagging, shopping. I see a lot of baggers that appear "slow". How about page at the library? Our local library has several openings.
Bagging groceries could be a great first job for OP's kid. It was my first job. There is customer interaction without that interaction being "critical" to the business. The socialization is mainly with the other front end workers.

They didn't really even interview me for that. Just showed up, filled out an application and they told me what store to show up to.
fourwheelcycle
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by fourwheelcycle »

Is you daughter looking for a summer job, or is she looking for a permanent job because further education is not a prospect for her? You say she is high functioning, but I am not sure whether you mean a grocery store job like bagging groceries would be just about right for her as a permanent job, or if you mean she could go to college or vo-tech school if you could find the right structured/supervised college or vo-tech program.

We have a not-for-profit grocery store in our community that works closely with a not-for-profit sheltered living house to provide jobs for younger and older adults who live semi-independently at the house. If you believe she may be able to grow into a more responsible job, I would suggest trying to get an interview, perhaps with your assistance, at the main HR office of a nearby college, medical center, or large "known to be compassionate" local business or industry. If they interview her and see potential, the HR office may try to find a position where she would be supported by her supervisor and co-workers, with the opportunity to grow and progress over time.
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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by Doom&Gloom »

The granddaughter of a friend of mine found her niche working at a vet's office for her early employment. If your daughter likes animals, a similar path may not lead to a career but it may build work habits and some social skills opportunities while not being an overwhelming part of her job.

My general advice would be not to focus on typical teenage jobs in fast food, coffee/smoothie shops, etc but keep your eyes open for jobs you see people doing every day but don't really notice. Good luck!
skp
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by skp »

I just thought of pet related/ self employment ideas.
Pet sitters- We have an older cat that no longer could eat solid food. She had to eat soft food and we had to feed her more than once a day. I had a heck of a time finding someone who would just come to the house to feed her, I hated to remove her from the house, but ended up putting her in a kennel. She was in a small cage the entire time we were gone. I would have paid as much as it took to get someone to come but I couldn't find anyone.
Dog walker- As a nurse I work 12 hour shifts, fortunately my husband is retired, but if he wasn't, I'd hate to leave her for 12 hours, and would welcome a pet walker. I know people who put their dogs in doggy care care when they work. Seems to me a pet walker would be a better/ cheaper choice
People have chickens that need to be checked on when they go on vacation.
House cleaning. NOT an agency. Our secretaries "extra" job is to clean a doctors house. She gets $100 for 4 hours work.
Fractalleaf
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by Fractalleaf »

I would caution against working at a high volume retail company such as Target. Customers can be merciless, as are the managers. Communication skills and refinement are not valued, all that matters is the speed with which you process people's purchases and the number of loyalty cards you pressure people into signing up. It is highly stressful and draining for anyone, let alone someone with social anxiety.

Does she like children? Local parks districts often need helpers for the children's programs, especially during the summer. Check whether your county offers tutoring or other services to low income families, they may be looking for part-time help to assist with after-school programs.

Unless having income is essential, it might be best to let her volunteer at something she might enjoy. It is important to allow someone with challenges to build up their confidence before jumping into a paid position where they may feel nervous about their performance.
sls239
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by sls239 »

Has she considered going to a temp agency? A temp agency will test applicants skills, interview them, and also ask them what they are looking for.

If they send her an assignment, even if it is just a day or two long one, the agency will get feedback that they can then share with her.
sailaway
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by sailaway »

Doesn't she have any support professionals who could help with this?
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ResearchMed
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by ResearchMed »

I have no special suggestions about possible employers, but agree that you should at least check with state and other jurisdictions for training programs or job placement help. They'll likely know of employers who are happy to welcome a variety of workers for various positions, and they may already be accustomed to such training.

But I keep returning to your description of her:"... her written communication is excellent, and shows refinement in both thought & language..."

It would be so nice if she could use some of the skills where she excels. Again, maybe one of the agencies/etc., referred to above might be able to help here, so don't forget to mention that. It might not be apparent from a verbal/in-person interview.

I'm just brainstorming from a NON-expert perspective, but maybe things like proof-reading, medical (or other) transcription, etc.?

How is she with computers?
Might a job in a lab be possible, depending upon her interests?

Someone we know (now past retirement age) has some undiagnosed medical problem that had gotten worse with age, and it manifested in both mobility issues and *very* awkward social interactions.
She ended up spending many years at a research lab, during an evening shift, such that she not only cleaned equipment but prepared things like gels (and lots else) for upcoming labwork as needed/requested by the regular daytime researchers. She loved "being involved in the research", as she was very intelligent and curious. She also enjoyed reading the research papers, which made her work even more worthwhile. She had a college degree, so the more technical aspects were a good fit, too.

So there can be a variety of positions that most of us don't really "see" that might be ideal.
(The "lab prep" work wouldn't have been good if a goal was to learn to get a bit better with social interaction, but that wasn't the case here. She much preferred being there after hours without others. Win-win.)

RM
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Jablean
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by Jablean »

If you don't already have a phone tracker look at - https://www.followmee.com/ You can set it to check in every 5 minutes or send an email alert when a boundary is crossed. You can follow their path on a map.

Role playing scenarios - Sorry, my work says I can't come inside. No thank you, I'm not allowed to take tips. I'm afraid I can't help you with that as my boss keeps me on a strict schedule. Or the old fallback - my mom says I can't.
jackb1117
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by jackb1117 »

I don't have anything to contribute that hasn't already been said, but I just wanted to call out the members of this board for being amazing across so many different dimensions. We are all exceedingly lucky to have such a great community at our fingertips. Stay safe & well, all.
mainiac
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by mainiac »

Back office work such as data entry? We are having trouble filling positions for accounts payable work.
Doctor Rhythm
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by Doctor Rhythm »

Does she have an IEP or receive services from her school district (or if she’s out of school, from municipal agencies)? They often offer job training and placement with local employers who are willing to work with someone when needs additional levels help. They may also be able to offer more useful counseling than a forum made up of neurotypical people trying to offer advice for someone on the spectrum.
CFOKevin
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by CFOKevin »

I'd suggest some networking with other families in your area with children on the spectrum (or with other special needs). Parents with a child like yours who is 5-10 years older are often the best guides to have to a system which can be challenging. In most States, the vocational agencies provide services at age 21 and older. Until then, job development and/or job supports are coordinated through the public school system. We're in an area that prioritizes work for adults with developmental disabilities (Madison, WI) and our 70+% employment rate far exceeds the national averages of 20-25%.

That said, it sounds like your teenager has a lot to offer an employer. The higher functioning individuals on the spectrum I know work at Target, each of our local grocery stores, at libraries and in other government offices. Most often, these individuals work without much in the way of job coaching and make great, long-term employees. Another first job to consider would be at a fitness club. There's always a need to keep machines wiped down, towels collected and equipment in the right place.

Good luck to your family,

Kevin
Happygo
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by Happygo »

Do you happen to live near any Amazon fulfillment/distribution centers? A friend’s autistic son got a job a few weeks ago doing package sorting for Amazon. My friend said no interview was required and that is seemed he was more or less automatically offered the job, perhaps through a special program Amazon has in place. Good luck.
OldBallCoach
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Re: Advice needed on teenager's job hunt

Post by OldBallCoach »

I think so often we tend to look at people for what they cant do instead of that they can do. I would encourage you to also check into any university in your area to see what they might be able to help you find for your daughter both post high school for a college education and also career goals and advise. Some schools I have worked in the past had AMAZING people that they placed in the perfect settings and it was an absolute joy for everyone involved. The key like StopToThink said is to find that match and sometimes help people get outside their comfort zone. I tell every player I coach once you are outside your comfort zone the real leaning begins....
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