Aspies and Careers

“My Aspergers Child” has given us a very good resource: Best and Worst Jobs for Aspergers Adults.

It’s based on common sense: We Aspies are much more likely to be better at certain things than others. This is not a final answer to “What should I do with my life?” – any more than any other career guide is, for any Aspie or NT. It is a realistic assessment of strengths and challenges – as any other career guide should be.

Any Aspie may be able to do anything, just like any NT. And dismissing something offhand as a bad job for a whole group of people can be premature. It is, however, a good heads-up which you should seriously consider before going your own way. The harder path may involve more glory…but also more hardship, self-doubt and loneliness.
Remember that we – human beings in general – naturally tend to overestimate (1) our abilities – especially soft skills like leadership and socializing, and (2) our chances of beating the odds. We tend to assume we’re more able than our peers, and even if only a few people can succeed at something, we’ll be the ones to beat the odds. Especially (but not only) when we’re young.

Case in point: Your Obedient Servant. People assumed that I was headed for a teaching career. After all, I was so smart, and could discuss so many esoteric things. Like with many Aspies, people thought of me as a “Little Professor”. And I went to graduate school, blithely ignoring the fact that relatively few PhDs ever got tenure-track college teaching positions.
Thing is:
  • Teaching – including college teaching, especially before you get tenured – involves a great deal of social skills, including empathizing with students and getting along with peers and superiors (and these days, pleasing students),
  • Precisely because I lacked these skills, I did not know this – let alone that I was lacking,
  • Over the last few decades, colleges and universities have radically cut back their full-time faculty, shifting much teaching work to adjuncts (who are hired, and paid, by the term), and
  • I was far from the only one not to get the message.

Result #1: 20 pounds of PhDs seeking teaching jobs in a 5 pound bag of available slots.

Result #2: I was one of those who fell out of the bag.

This resource is a set of warnings, not absolute rules – but as with any warnings, do take them to heart.
What do you think?

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Jeffrey Deutsch
I have Asperger Syndrome (AS) and give inspirational talks, consult with organizations and train people on how to recognize and work well with people on the spectrum and coach individuals on and off the spectrum.
Jeffrey Deutsch

Jeffrey Deutsch

I have Asperger Syndrome (AS) and give inspirational talks, consult with organizations and train people on how to recognize and work well with people on the spectrum and coach individuals on and off the spectrum.

0 thoughts on “Aspies and Careers

  • November 1, 2010 at 10:16 am
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    You are not completely right on this and taking only account of latent ability of people. With proper education and potential unleashing, they can at least having capabilities on par with normal people. Also, I agree with SavonDuJour, your words are insulting to us.

  • October 30, 2010 at 7:58 am
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    “What do you think?” you say

    What I think is I do not like being in your bag as “We aspies”. I might have Asperger’s but I am by no means my disorder to be defined and named by it and then, worse, you cosy it down to define all of us by a nickname.  I find it ultra-insulting but then people with Asperger’s definitely have social problems and alienate people – even each other.  When I define myself, many things come to mind, Aspergers isn’t one of them, its a disorder I have, its not me.

    I did assume that my skills would get me the jobs I wanted and I was right. The high-level jobs I got and promotions. I did screw up on a personal level –  along the way, working environments except with my bosses weren’t always the best. Now I work for myself and that has its problems with staff and customers too.

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