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Finding My Voice By Harvy Ackermans

I came to know Aspiritech after being laid off from a computer programming job, and my wife began looking for a company that hired people with special needs.
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I’d never worked at a company that intentionally hired people who have special needs, and as a person with tourettes and autism, I applied for the role of Test Engineer in late 2016 and got the job.

I loved working at Aspiritech, but I didn’t find the Test Engineer role very challenging and I left. A year later, Aspiritech had an opening for a management role. I applied and was re-hired as a Quality Assurance Lead. I had never supervised people before, and I was excited for the opportunity to manage people on an administrative level and also to oversee large project teams.

It was a learning curve that required me to refine my soft skills. It was a challenge, and it can still sometimes be frustrating to manage people in a company where everyone is neurodivergent. But I have plenty of support. After learning everyone’s differences and how to adapt to them, I’ve been able to lead very productive and successful teams, and to build great relationships; both of which are very rewarding.

As Aspiritech continues to grow, I’ve taken initiative to find new ways to be more efficient and write code to improve the company workflow. For example, I wrote a program that makes scheduling more efficient. It’s something I love to do, so I always get excited when someone asks me to write some code.

A typical day as a QA Lead means meetings and administrative work ensuring that the projects I’m leading run smoothly. Presently, I oversee projects for Astellas Pharma, Medline Industries, and Goldman Sachs where we’ve been doing a lot of software testing to ensure websites and mobile apps are running smoothly.

While the work itself and the diversity of client businesses keeps the job interesting, having diverse and supportive co-workers makes the job better. I can go to someone who has a lot of knowledge in one area and have them help out on a task I’m working on. Some people are really great at math, drawing, or music, and I feel comfortable going to those people, just as they are comfortable coming to me for programming. We’re all pretty smart. Although most of us are autistic, it doesn’t mean we’re all the same. Autism affects everyone differently.

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