NEW YORK, NY (09/02/15) — The Asperger Syndrome Training and Employment Partnership (ASTEP) today announced the dates for its fifth annual Corporate Lecture Series, a unique platform launched in 2011 and designed to introduce young job seekers with Asperger Syndrome to Fortune 1000 companies. The program launches this month and continues through mid-December. It is fashioned after similar events ASTEP has held in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Participating employers include PwC, Omnicom Media Group, EY, the City of New York, LinkedIn, Willkie Farr and Gallagher LLP, Turner Sports, Hogan Lovells, Cisco, KIND, Barclays and Louis Berger.
“The program began as a way to demystify for employers what it means to be on the autism spectrum,” says Marcia Scheiner, President and Founder of ASTEP. Aimed at connecting college students and recent graduates with Asperger Syndrome and similar autism profiles to employers, the Corporate Lecture Series was born out of a creative attempt to educate the business community on the capabilities of this population. “What if,” Ms. Scheiner recalls, “instead of asking managers to listen to a presentation, we asked them to give one? What if, instead of asking recruiters to listen to a pitch on starting an autism employment initiative, we asked for something much simpler — for them to spend a couple of hours helping this group better understand how to position themselves for the employment world?”
ASTEP’s willingness to ask these questions continues to have a positive impact on both communities. At a recent panel with two lecture series graduates sponsored by LinkedIn, one employee commented that the meeting in which she heard these young adults speak was “far and away the most inspirational session [she has] ever attended since joining the company.” As for the students, through this series, 100 young adults will have completed the program and applied its lessons and experiences to their job search.
For the upcoming NYC series, 22 young adults have been accepted, representing a variety of schools (among them CUNY, Wesleyan, SUNY Purchase and Rutgers). Following an orientation, sessions will be held every week. Each will run for two hours and include an employer presentation on a recruitment-related topic as well as an open networking session. Session topics include interview skills development, resume building, networking basics, industry/company research and informative pointers related to disclosure.
“Today 35% of all 18-year-olds diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder are getting a college education, yet they have a 75-85% unemployment rate after graduation,” concludes Ms. Scheiner. “Our program offers employers access to this highly skilled, yet untapped workforce.”
Founded in 2010, ASTEP (Asperger Syndrome Training & Employment Partnership) is a 501(c)3 organization that provides end-to-end solutions for Fortune 1000 companies interested in hiring and retaining employees with Asperger’s and similar autism profiles. What sets ASTEP apart from similar recruitment firms is its focus on the employer side of the equation; ASTEP’s mission creates not only opportunities for individuals but also employer access to this underappreciated and underemployed workforce.