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Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area

Neurodiversity Internship Program

Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area (WSRCA), along with Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VR), are seeking employers to take part in a neurodiversity internship project, to enhance their operations with talented workers of all abilities, and to boost career opportunities for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Having worked for many years in diversity recruiting, I was quite surprised recently to learn of a subset of recruitment, specializing in neurodiversity. What is it? Well, the term was first coined in the late 1990’s and refers to people, who are non-neurotypical or perhaps better said, as folks that are wired a little differently than the average or typical person. These individuals are often diagnosed as having ASD, Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Dyslexia, Tourette Syndrome, or one of a dozen other conditions that render them neurodivergent. Even Gifted and various anxiety disorders are part of the neurodiversity spectrum.

A neurodivergent person's brain reacts differently to stimuli, data and situations, often taking on a very logical and pragmatic approach to solving problems. These types of skills can be very helpful in solving complex mathematical, engineering and IT challenges, such as Cyber Security for example.

Because neurodivergent people tend to not fit neurotypical roles, they are often overlooked for positions where their unique skills could benefit an employer. Statistically, according to Autism Speaks, an Austin based program dedicated to helping people on the spectrum, about half of all people in their twenties with ASD are employed, with a great deal of those underemployed; that is, performing jobs or tasks well below their capabilities. All they need is a chance to show what they can do.

Locally, both Dell Technologies and Precision Car Wash have work initiatives or internship programs for people on the Spectrum. Dell places them in Data Analytics roles for a 12-week internship and some are hired full time after that. It's an amazing program WSRCA honored when it recognized Dell Technologies with the Employer Award of Excellence at the Texas Workforce Commission’s 23rd Annual Texas Workforce Conference.

WSRCA, along with its partners at VR, are taking the learnings from those projects and others, to create the Rural Capital Area Neurodiversity Project. The Rural Capital Area includes the nine counties that surround Travis County or the Capital Area, and includes Round Rock, San Marcos, Georgetown, Bastrop, Burnet and other communities in Central Texas.

“Today we have 30 work-ready people on the Spectrum out of about 400 living in the Rural Capital Area,” said Robert Alexander, Manager of Rehabilitation Services. “There are about 10,000 neurodivergent people in Texas,” he added.

As the WSRCA, Business Services Manager and Team Lead, I'm very excited about the project. We have been putting this together for months now and have a great team to kick things off including Vocational Rehabilitation experts, Robert Alexander, Jennifer Hines, BK Hines and Carly Castro. Each have extensive backgrounds and credentials in helping people on the Spectrum. Our WSRCA Business Services Team is now looking for companies to participate.

The Rural Capital Area Neurodiversity Project is seeking companies that would like to hire an Intern to bolster their operations, with the hopes of potentially making an offer of full-time employment. WSRCA will pay the intern's salary for the first 12 weeks, as they learn more about your business. Ideal roles could be as a Cyber Security Analyst, Statistician, Information Technology Specialist, Engineering Support Representative, or any role that requires an individual work through complex analytical challenges.

We have found that highly functional people on the Spectrum are often uniquely qualified to sort otherwise random patterns of code and data much faster than their neurotypical counterparts.

Each candidate accepted into the program is thoroughly screened for your unique position. The employer has a 12-week period to assess the candidate for a fit within their organization, and WSRCA provides support and counseling for both the employer and the new employee, to ensure maximum opportunity for success.

If you know of a neurodivergent person that may benefit from a program like this, please have them reach out to Robert Alexander at 512-244-2207.

If your company is interested in pursuing a Neurodiversity Internship, I can be reached at the same number or by email at carl.braun@ruralcapital.net.