Whilst at school, I participated in Morgan Stanley’s Early Careers Programme, designed to inform students about careers in computer science. During this programme, I met a mentor at the Firm who encouraged me to apply to Morgan Stanley’s Technology Spring Insight Week, an experience which subsequently led to an offer to join Morgan Stanley’s Technology Industrial Placement scheme.
Since starting my internship, I have identified three top tips for successfully managing my ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and Autism in the workplace.
1.Identify the strengths that ADHD and Autism can bring
Working in Technology as a programmer has helped me to discover the many strengths that having Autism can bring and which are an advantage in the workplace. These include attention to detail, high energy, patience and consideration towards others.
One of my biggest strengths is that I tend to hyper-fixate on things that I find super interesting. If I am given tasks that interest me a lot, and most of them tend to, I can get them done very quickly. Often people think I can do a thousand different things, when in reality, I really enjoy what I’m doing and my brain is focussed on the task at hand. Because I am focused on my tasks, I am not distracted by my phone or surroundings – and sometimes I might even forget what time of day it is! However, this just enables me to get my work done.
Another strength is that I have a lot of energy. If I am excited about what I am doing and I enjoy it, I have a surge of energy to get it done and therefore, tend to be incredibly productive. Since I hyper-fixate on my work, it also tends to be very accurate.
My third key strength is my ability to understand other people, which stems from my self-awareness and being aware of my own difficulties. I try hard to make sure I understand others and if something becomes confusing for either party, I will pick up on it. For example, if I am speaking to someone and English is not their first language, I will make sure that I adjust my communication because I know what it might feel like to not understand others.
2.Requesting support during the recruitment process
When I was diagnosed with ADHD and Autism, I noticed that a lot of students around me didn’t tend to feel comfortable speaking up about having learning difficulties or disabilities. However, I have always felt comfortable mentioning my diagnoses, which has allowed me to access the support I require, both during the recruitment process and in the workplace.
When applying to internships, I observed that whilst many companies encourage neurodiverse people to apply, they do not cater towards certain needs during the application process. However, with Morgan Stanley my experience was different, and I had support at every stage of the recruitment process. This included when I was given a task and had someone on hand that I could put forward explicit questions to or ask them to explain something I didn’t understand.
3.Requesting support in the workplace
Beyond the recruitment process, I need support in the workplace on a day-to-day basis. Raising awareness of neurodiversity is critical to ensuring that the right support is available in the workplace, in a way that works for the individual accessing it.
I have been very open with my managers and in return they have been very understanding. I have helped them to understand that there might be days where I feel like I can’t be as productive because everything is racing in my brain. This compares to other days, where I can get a lot done and I will choose to work longer days because I am super-focused.
My manager is also understanding if I say that I need more breaks some days than others, or if I want to stay back later to work because I am hyper-fixated on something. They will also give me the time back the next day in lieu of this.
Facilities such as mindfulness rooms in the workplace are useful spaces to take some time out and reset your mind. Above all, a supportive team and a flexible approach have enabled me to find a way of working that suits me and enables me to thrive in the workplace.
Sumaiya Mohbubul recently returned as a Full-Time Analyst after completing an Industrial Placement internship in Morgan Stanley’s Technology division.