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Looking for a nice place to work or change of career

By apstoo - 22 September 2013 18

I’m an APS2 public servant and have been looking forward to a promotion at the end of the year that will finally see me back on a wage I can live comfortably on. So it was a huge shock last week when I was told that I won’t be getting the promotion that I have been promised and instead will be getting a much lower one. About $20,000 lower. Having worked in APS 4, 5 and 6 positions over the past 10 years this is a massive blow.

While I do have a university degree and 10 plus years’ experience  in my field, I also have Autism Spectrum Disorder, and/or Asperger’s syndrome. So my social skills are not great, nor are my job interview skills. I have never managed to get a job by conventional means, instead getting jobs via vacancy registers, positive employment programs or other means. In the jobs I have had I’ve always maintained a policy of being polite everyone and doing the best I can. I have even managed to get complements in some jobs because of my eagerness to help people, kindness and work ethic. Despite that, I’ve never been promoted, and never had a pay rise other than standard yearly pay rises. This is despite having several times trained up people who then got promoted over me. So any job I get promoted to after this one will be the job I will be in years from now.

So now I’m looking at being stuck at a lousy wage that will be about half of what many of my co-workers get, and about $18,000-$24,000 less than most of the office staff.  Many of those staff don’t have a university degree or my years of experience. While I don’t begrudge them, and I really work with a lovely team of people, the reality is I just can’t live on that sort of wage much longer. I’ve seen my saving dwindle, and I was really hoping to be able to spend about $20,000 on a much needed medical procedure in the new year. I was also hoping to buy a small block of land so I could retire to a simple life in about 5-10 years time because I have some medical issues which are affecting my quality of life.

So, anyway, I have decided if I am going to work for a lousy wage I may as well work doing something I enjoy. I really like helping people. Having been overseas I think I would enjoy doing aid work because it is really nice improving people’s lives and bringing joy to them. I am wondering if anyone who has done aid work can tell me what it is like, who you worked for (if you can), what you did, and what it was like living overseas. I have a mild mobility disability that causes pain when I walk or stand for long periods, but I don’t think that would be a major issue, or would it be? I love solar power and would love to help install solar power systems in developing countries. I’m also really good at things like basic plumbing, and I work with computers and have trained classes of adults in computer usage. Also, on the practical side were you paid a living allowance that allowed you to put your things in storage or covered costs back home? Like I mentioned, I don’t mind a lousy wage, but I think it is fair that it covers my costs.

I’ve also thought of getting a job elsewhere in Canberra. However, that has been hard. So I’d want a job with a good work environment. Currently I do work with very nice people, and I like my team. However I rarely ever get told I’m doing a good job, and get told when I am doing something  wrong (usually along the lines of “No, you’re doing it wrong.” With no advice on how to do it right.) Though I try hard not to take it personally, I admit that gets to me and I have often gone home in tears and have been thinking of suicide a lot lately. So I am looking for a workplace that encourages and motivates staff more with a carrot than a stick. Where there are regular social things like morning teas so you can get to know people, network and form good working relationships. I know such places exist, can anyone let me know where? Especially in the IT field.

In addition to being Autistic I am also gender diverse, that is I don’t fit into the male or female binary very well. This is also probably why I have never had a promotion. Any work place I go into would have to be respectful of that. I wonder if such a workplace even exists.

Lastly, does anyone know of clubs for adults with Autism or Asperger’s who do social activities. Because I am very much like a child in how I see the world I’m really not good socially. Even most conversations leave me behind. By the time I have figured out what people are talking about, and figure something to say, the conversation has move on. So I am quiet and not so great at making new friends outside of work.  It would be great go meet people who are at my level or understand where I am coming from and do social things, even if hanging out and playing board games.

Thanks to anyone who can give answers to these many questions.

Kind regards,

APStoo

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18 Responses to
Looking for a nice place to work or change of career
apstoo 7:00 pm 23 Sep 13

Thanks to those people with helpful and useful ideas. To Masquara, thanks again, just to clear things up I was not demoted, this is a job I got a while back after finishing a temporary job.
Also, to the worry worts I say; A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for. If I wanted to play life safe, I’d stick with the low paying APS2 job. Besides, having done some short term holiday volonteering, I’ve found that people who are greatful for your help, tend not to care about gender, especially in the Pacific. If you too are unhappy about your jobs, do something about it!

Spiral 1:22 pm 23 Sep 13

breda said :

The notion of yourself as an Angel of Mercy for the less fortunate is the worst possible reason for getting involved in overseas aid work. You admit that your social skills are not stellar and further that you have some sort of gender ambiguity. Forget it. People in poor countries have enough problems without you imposing yours on them. It will not be appreciated, either.

+1

Of course there are always exceptions such as perhaps if you plan on doing work with Thai Shemales, but many other cultures are way less accepting of people who don’t fit into their norms than we are, especially when it comes to gender and gender interactions.

You could go somewhere and do wonderful work, but on the other hand you could very easily end up as an unpleasant news article and coming back home in the cargo hold of an aircraft.

If you do decide to do overseas work, really do your research about the place.

breda 12:05 pm 23 Sep 13

The notion of yourself as an Angel of Mercy for the less fortunate is the worst possible reason for getting involved in overseas aid work. You admit that your social skills are not stellar and further that you have some sort of gender ambiguity. Forget it. People in poor countries have enough problems without you imposing yours on them. It will not be appreciated, either.

We would all love a kind, flexible workplace which pays us what we think we are worth. Now and then, it actually happens. But the whole point about paid “work” is that it means doing something we would not otherwise be doing, the tradeoff being time+effort=money.

I completely get the thing about being miserable in a job. I’ve been there, and it’s awful. But you need to be realistic about your alternatives.

pink little birdie 11:55 am 23 Sep 13

pink little birdie said :

Try the ABU wargames society. They have a room of magic the gathering and board games and can deal with aspergers and introverts. Deal probably isn’t the right word but you know.

I meant ANY wargaming society.

joingler 11:01 am 23 Sep 13

460cixy said :

Poor didums must be a wake up haveing to do it hard like a lot of other canberans no sympathy here

I would normally agree with you but this person has acknowledged their faults and is trying hard to help themselves. And they are asking for help. So how about you grow up and either give some advice or just ignore the article?

OP, I used to be in a similar situation to you and now find myself working in school aged care. It is a fantastic job where you simply get paid to have fun with kids. Whether you’re into sport, craft, cooking, science experiments, music or computer games, you will find that you are able to share your interests with children who benefit greatly from it. The pay is not good (I get around $30K) but it is a fantastic job. I have schizoid personality disorder but have found that having the disorder actually helps me relate to some kids in ways the other staff at the program can’t. It is quite possible that you could be the same. As someone else mentioned, volunteering Australia could also be fantastic for you. It all depends on your interests.

In regards to clubs for adults with Autism/Aspergers, are there any board/card games you are interested in? Canasta, Bridge, Scrabble, Chess etc? I know that these are not specific to people with Autism but I know of a few people with the disorder that regularly attend such clubs.

All the best in your search

Robertson 10:15 am 23 Sep 13

pink little birdie said :

Also try working for a more technical department which is high on technical ability and low on social skills. There are a few out there but they tend to not be the policy departments

Yes – try ACMA, CSIRO, AAD, BoM, GA, even Environment has some areas that do real work and might be able to find a niche for you where your skills and intelligence can be used.

Talk to your manager about having your potential used to the fullest for the good of the agency.

CanberraBred 10:11 am 23 Sep 13

Hi apstoo, this sounds like a pretty difficult situation for you and I really sympathise. I’m not sure which department you are in at the moment, but if you want to stay in the APS I would definitely give the ABS a go. It has a lot of technical areas (IT, statistical methodology, survey data processing, etc) that might suit your work style. It also has a very strong social scene and clubs, including a board games at lunchtime club! Unfortunately it’s like a lot of other departments and isn’t recruiting much at the moment, but definitely keep an eye out for ads and temp register vacancies.

pink little birdie 9:57 am 23 Sep 13

Also try working for a more technical department which is high on technical ability and low on social skills. There are a few out there but they tend to not be the policy departments

pink little birdie 9:56 am 23 Sep 13

Try the ABU wargames society. They have a room of magic the gathering and board games and can deal with aspergers and introverts. Deal probably isn’t the right word but you know.

460cixy 8:13 am 23 Sep 13

Poor didums must be a wake up haveing to do it hard like a lot of other canberans no sympathy here

BimboGeek 10:14 pm 22 Sep 13

I’m not big on whinging to unions but if this was happening to me, mum would say this is the real kind of problem that unions are supposed to be helping. Take my mum’s advice and talk to someone at the union, preferably by email or whatever makes you most comfortable.

If you’re seriously getting demoted because people don’t know whether to call you “he” or “she” and you’re too awkward to put them at ease, and if they can’t specify anything you’re doing wrong (generalised whinging is normal in any gathering of two or more humans) then I’m pretty happy to agree that you don’t need to be demoted and shouldn’t have been demoted so far.

Anyway I’m sure there’s someone out there who would be glad of your help so follow your dreams and do what makes you happy.

Masquara 7:53 pm 22 Sep 13

Hey! If you can do an APS2 job they have to pay you accordingly! If your Aspergers makes them feel awkward, that’s their problem. Get yourself an advocate by contacting the Human Rights Commission, and be assertive (with support). Best of luck!

threepaws 7:12 pm 22 Sep 13

I have no practical advice to offer you but I just wanted to say that your openness and insight into your current situation is commendable. I have no doubt that with an attitude like yours you will be successful in finding work that satisfies and supports you.

It stood out to me that you mentioned you have been thinking about suicide a lot lately. It’s great that you can be so open about this and I sincerely hope that you have people in your life, a support network, that you can call on when you are feeling suicidal. Sometimes all it takes is a brief, honest conversation with someone you trust (or even a stranger on a helpline for that matter) to pull you through your darkest moments.

You sound like you have some very definite goals in terms of your employment and social life, and I hope that working toward these goals will bring you much happiness and contentment. All the best.

Ronald_Coase 6:26 pm 22 Sep 13

If you are interested in aid work, may I suggest contacting Australian Volunteers International. It could change your and others’ lives. And, believe me when I say suicidal thoughts will pass and life will get better. You really need to talk to someone you trust about that, but don’t be afraid, just do it. Life is too good to give it up, even when you think it sucks. Hang in there!

Benamb 12:24 pm 22 Sep 13

Hey APStoo, I never normally comment on Riot, but couldn’t help myself today. I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this. My brother has Aspergers and despite being highly intelligent, high-functioning and extremely talented in sound composition and IT he has never managed to hold down a job for long (or even gain employment) because of his lack of interpersonal skills. I feel for him, and for you. I have no practical solutions to your situation but wanted to offer you empathy and encouragement. Don’t give up! Life’s short, find something you love doing and do it. Best of luck with it all, and do update if you end up following your dreams!

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