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A Look Inside Our Neurodiversity Hiring Program

Tim

Tim Y. | Data Science Intern | United States

Meet Tim Y., who recently joined Dell Technologies through our Neurodiversity Hiring Program, which gives job candidates who are on the autism spectrum the chance to showcase their skills through a unique interview and internship structure.

We asked Tim to share some of his story, as well as his experience with the program and at Dell Technologies. Here’s what he had to say!

What was your situation like before you found the Dell Technologies Neurodiversity Hiring Program?

Even before switching careers into Data Science, I had issues getting hired for full-time Accounting and Finance roles, with many gaps in my employment. While I was in grad school studying for my Master’s in Taxation, I noticed that my peers were getting their dream jobs at accounting firms, while I was left behind. After I completed a software engineering bootcamp, the same thing happened. My peers were getting interviews and job offers, while I struggled. I even went so far as building automated scripts to apply to jobs for me; however, I soon realized that getting interviews was only half the battle.

How did you find out about the program?

I found out about the Dell Technologies Neurodiversity Hiring Program through my best friend and his girlfriend. It turns out that the people who wanted me to succeed the most were the friends who had seen me struggle. Had they not told me about the program or brought to my attention that they thought I was on the autism spectrum, I would likely still be struggling to find employment and thinking everything was normal.

It took me 30 years to understand that I’m wired differently than most people and it came in the least expected way. It became increasingly apparent that I was neurodivergent because I was unemployed with narrow interests in data science. Luckily for me, I’m a truth seeker, and I had managed to ask my friend the right question, namely, “What does your girlfriend think about me?” When he responded that she thought I might be on the autism spectrum, it led to an obsession to discover what being on the spectrum even meant.

Tim and Dell swag

How was the Neurodiversity Hiring Program different from other job interview experiences you’ve had?

So firstly, Dell Neurodiversity hiring has been unequivocally different than the traditional hiring processes. I interviewed at another tech company’s Neurodiversity Hiring Program for a software engineering role. I believe one of the key requirements was that I needed to either still be in school or have graduated recently from university, whereas Dell has no such hard requirement.  Furthermore, there was almost no difference to a typical interview for similar software engineering roles. The screening process at the other company asked pseudo behavioral questions similar to the traditional interview process. For example, I was asked, “How would you design an accessible kitchen?” and “Tell me about a time you received feedback from someone such as a co-worker or a manager.”

As someone who does noticeably better with structured questions where answers are objective, having to deal with unstructured questions like those are an absolute nightmare. I often don’t have the ability to get past my anxiety to carefully think through a question like that without advanced preparation.

On the other hand, Dell’s hiring process was mainly limited to a structured project with clear objectives and expectations. All screening questions were sent directly to the candidate so we could prepare in advance and reduce performance anxiety during interview and presentation time.

What has your experience at Dell Technologies been like so far?

My experience at Dell has been very positive. In all my internship experiences combined (I’ve had three, not including this experience), I’ve not seen an internship program run better than Dell Technologies’. Witnessing the cross collaboration and communication between different business units has been something of a masterclass.

Despite Dell being such a large organization, I’ve had one-on-ones with not just people outside my business unit, but also executives that run the organization. In my opinion, this shows that I’m not just another number on the balance sheet, but that I have the ear of senior leadership, as they have mine.

As an example, one of the questions that a chief of staff had asked me during a one-on-one session was “how can I help you succeed?” He had stolen the words out my lips so naturally I had to flip the question back on him. His reply was giving him honest feedback and keeping him in the loop at every step of the way.

What is your team like?

I feel that my team and manager have been receptive and understanding of my needs. I’ve been receiving nothing but positive feedback and empathy from my team since sharing my journey and discovery of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

I’ve noticed that my team has no ego, and each person has been helpful and necessary in my development. This seems to be a general trend across Dell Technologies.

What advice would you give to other autistic folks who are considering applying for the program?

My advice is to apply even when you are unsure and lack confidence. I’m also guilty of second guessing my abilities because of the way a lot of job descriptions are aggressively worded to screen out candidates. But, you’ll never learn and grow as an individual if you don’t take risks. One piece of advice from senior leadership I’ve taken to heart is to take calculated risks and to fail fast, so you have room to improve. So, the first step is applying!

For more information on the Dell Technologies Neurodiversity Hiring Program, visit the program page on our careers website!

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