Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Career Resource for Aspies

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?

H/T: TG, an autistic parent of autistic kids.

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