Getting a Placement with an Undiagnosed Neurodiversity? No Thanks.
2016. Needing a job. Competition: high. Chances of succeeding? Lower than I thought.
I was neurodivergent but didn’t know it, and I had no idea why I couldn’t get a placement.
The culprit? No, I’m not going to say my dyslexia. It wasn’t me at all.
The real culprit? Online screening. The most ridiculously posed questions. The automatic rejection before any real human being has seen my application.
I was 19 and applying for a placement in industry. My degree conscripted us out of the uni for a year out regardless of whether we wanted one or not. Whether that be doing a placement, studying abroad or ’doing something meaningful’ as I heard a lecturer say one time.
I yearned to do a placement. While I thought of romanticising my life with a year abroad (I got an offer from the University of Graz in Austria) it was the industry experience that I knew I needed.
And at that point, I thought I NEEDED it like I wouldn’t be employable without it.
The tricky part was getting taken seriously, let alone getting to final stages. It just didn't happen for me.
The online testing we had to do for all the large companies seeking placement students was astoundingly not inclusive. We had to do several English language tests (basic comprehension) and numerical tests.
At that point, I thought it was just me with the 1-2 out of 10s as apparently the tests were 'so easy' and 'the answer's in the question', but try deciphering something from a question you can't even put together properly.
At this point, I didn't fully know I had dyslexia, but on a few applications I added that I had dyslexia to ensure I got whatever adjustments I needed. But there was a catch:
There were no adjustments (???)
I think there were a few companies offering extra time but honestly, time wasn't the issue...
The way they measured performance was.
So what did I do? I went elsewhere. I started applying for companies that didn't require any of these online tests. They had to be smaller companies of course, but in that simple switch I found myself so much happier than I would have been at a large company.
I was sure that if they weren't exercising inclusivity at the front gates, it wouldn't be any different inside.
And I had a blast. I went to a digital marketing agency and I've been stuck on marketing ever since. I inquired, they interviewed, and I got an internship. In my view, it was the right decision to go down the small-company-route. For one, I was truly contributing to real case studies and aiding real clients - from what I saw of those at big company placements, they made special roles just for the interns.
1. It's ok to go against the grain, 2. As much as I failed at the tests, it was a blessing and 3. Big companies have a long way to go before they start recruiting diversity.
I 'failed' at corporate office entry tests… until I realised that they failed me.