Helping neurodiverse students find a career where they can thrive - Education Matters Magazine

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Helping neurodiverse students find a career where they can thrive

Teachers play a critical role in raising awareness of the career opportunities and pathways available for their students, including neurodiverse students.

Teachers want to see the students in their care find a life path where they will be happy and successful, noting that success will mean different things to different people. But there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Students are individuals with different needs and interests. As the world becomes more accepting of diversity, there is a greater range of further education and career options available to consider. And teachers can help students to see that their differences are actually strengths.

International Neurodiversity Pride Day (16 June) celebrated neurodivergent uniqueness and the value of neurodiversity in society. It’s a great time to think about career options where neurodiverse students might thrive. For example, those who are interested in maths or coding might excel in a software engineering career where being able to focus on solving a problem, and thinking differently, is something to be nurtured.

Will Kennedy, a software engineer at WiseTech Global with autism and ADHD, explains how he used his ‘difference’ as a strength in his career.

“There are unique challenges that I had to address, and that’s okay. It also gives me things that are quite unique to myself and are advantages. For example, ADHD isn’t really about not being able to focus. It’s more about not being able to regulate how much focus you dedicate to a specific activity. I can fixate on something and forget to eat, but this also means that I can achieve quite a lot in a given period of time. Of course, tasks I’m not passionate about, like paperwork for example, will likely fall by the wayside. The key is to find a career where this focus can be used as an advantage,” he said.

“When I was a kid, I learned how to code which is very congruent with other loves – like math, science and problem solving in general. I get the same rush and exhilaration from building a robot or fixing a car or dismantling a microwave or writing code. Coding stuck with me because it was where I could express my creativity freely. Now I get to solve fascinating problems daily. I’m able to contribute in a quite substantial and obvious way to a product that solves a bunch of problems for consumers.”

Teachers play a critical role in raising awareness of the career opportunities and pathways available for their students. The WiseTech Global Earn & Learn program for Year 12 school leavers aims to make tech careers accessible for all, and to help build talented software developers and innovative thinkers.

The program combines university study with a full-time job at one of Australia’s top tech companies. Over four years students will earn a university degree in software engineering, be paid a competitive full-time salary, gain real world experience, have university course fees reimbursed and finish with no HECS debt.

The team is diverse in gender, neurodiversity, skills and interests. And the program is carefully designed to be supportive to new learners, while offering extreme technical challenges for those with substantial prior experience.

Applications for the 2025 intake for WiseTech Earn & Learn are now open. To find out more go to www.wisetechglobal.com/earn-and-learn and watch this video.

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