By Nick Venturella
Many people people with autism earn a college degree, and even advanced degrees. They have lots of knowledge and sought-after creative skills, however, social and sensory differences can make successfully passing the rigors of a job interview extremely difficult.
In other scenarios, autistic individuals who have landed employment may contend with miscommunications and/or misunderstandings amongst the social and interpersonal interactions of a typical office setting making it difficult to perform at their best. Still, in other cases, many autistic individuals are simply underemployed — meaning they’re not working up to their potential or true skill level — or worse, they’re totally unemployed.
Unfortunately, various autism employment research has shown that the majority of working-aged autistic adults are unemployed or underemployed, yet they’ve aged out of many support services so they have a great need, and usually an even greater desire, to work and support themselves.
I founded AutismHR.com as a result of curiously researching the prospect of future job opportunities available for autistic job-seeking adults, knowing that my own young autistic son will one day need to support himself. AutismHR’s goal is to help autistic adults gain income from meaningful work. Essentially, providing an alternative option to, and/or a springboard toward, traditional employment by teaching motivated autistic individuals how to use the Gig Economy (specifically the Fiverr Gig Economy platform) to land, deliver and get paid for contract work they enjoy doing.
The “Gig Economy” is a bit of a pop culture term for an ecosystem of contract work, which includes people making their entire living off of contract work vs. full-time traditional employment, as well as others simply stringing together various projects/contract or freelance work to generate full- or part-time income. AutismHR provides free tutorials to its autistic site visitors about how to use Fiverr to set up and run their own online service business from wherever they feel most comfortable working.
While the Gig Economy may not be the best path for every autistic adult seeking meaningful employment, it certainly can be an ideal fit for creative individuals with skills that can easily translate into a digitally delivered online service, like graphic design work, writing/proof-reading work, website development or even session musician work (recorded and shared over the internet to contribute to someone’s larger musical project).
There are key benefits specifically about the Fiverr Gig Economy platform that attracted me [AutismHR founder, Nick Venturella (also an avid Fiverr Seller/user himself)] to connect and partner with Fiverr to bring the Gig Economy to those in the autistic community looking for an alternative or starting point to meaningful work.
First, Fiverr’s platform allows the individual service provider (known as Sellers on Fiverr) the ability to really concentrate on providing their clients the best quality work they can because the Seller is not bogged down with having to drum up more new business. The platform brings new business to service providers while they focus on their work. Plus, the more positive reviews a Seller receives the more Fiverr promotes that Seller’s service, constantly pushing more new business in their direction without them having to hunt for it. In addition, all the communication with clients (or Buyers) and all the financial transactions are handled in one spot, on the Fiverr platform.
These, among other tools within Fiverr, make it the ideal platform with which autistic adults new to the Gig Economy can get started. AutismHR wants to provide tutorials about the Gig Economy to help close the gap on unemployed and underemployed autistic adults. Here are some specifics about how the Gig Economy can help do that…
The Gig Economy can be a great place to begin gaining work experience on real projects for paying clients. This does several things for individuals interested in building upon meaningful work to launch a meaningful career:
- it provides individuals the opportunity to begin getting work experience in the creative field they’re interested in
- the work done in the Gig Economy can be used to begin and/or add to one’s growing portfolio of work samples (which are important to have in traditional job interviews if traditional employment is an ultimate goal)
- Individuals are actually getting paid for their work (one can think of it as a bit of a paid internship)
- one gains experience and confidence managing their own work projects for clients
- individuals gain experience as an entrepreneur; as someone with initiative who is willing to go after what s/he wants.
All of the above bullet points are invaluable to a future employers because it’s proof that the individual has experience, a body of work to show for it (their portfolio) and that their work provides value to clients.
…or if traditional employment is not the end goal, such freelance work can simply become the starting point to a longer term, rewarding Gig Economy career.