A majority of people with Autism are under- or unemployed – oftentimes despite phenomenal technical talent. This year alone, over 2.5 million STEM jobs will go unfilled, and we recognize the value of the untapped talent of the Autism community.
We launched an internship program for students who self-identify as autistic or being on the Autism spectrum. The Autism Spectrum Internship Program provides a unique interviewing process and onboarding program to help bridge the gap between academic and on the job learning. The purpose is to focus on the critical skills necessary to do the job – the strengths of these students – and remove barriers to obtaining meaningful employment using a traditional interview process geared toward neurotypical individuals. In addition to working as a full-time intern, students are paired with a trained mentor throughout the summer to help with day-to-day questions and support.
One intern in the program, says, “I applied to SAS for the opportunity to be authentically autistic after years of hiding it in public. My manager gives me clear and upfront expectations, every accommodation I have needed has been made, and the work I’m doing is challenging, engaging and meaningful. It has been the opportunity of a lifetime.”
At SAS, curiosity is our code, and we want all kinds of minds working on our software and with our customers. The Autism Spectrum Internship Program reinforces our commitment to be a great place to work for all.
The Autism Spectrum Internship Program has been recognized by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) with the 2019 NACE Diversity and Inclusion Excellence Award. In the first year, SAS had six students in the program, several of which plan to work part-time throughout the school year. We hope to expand the program in the upcoming year to additional areas outside of research & development.
I am proud to work for a company that recognizes the need for and the potential of neurodiversity. Inclusion and diversity are strengths. The Autism Spectrum Internship Program tears down barriers for interns on the autism spectrum. The majority of autistic individuals have exceptional talents, often in technical domains. Their unemployment and underemployment rate exceed 80%. We can do better.