Geraint was diagnosed with Asperger's when he was 8. He joined us as an apprentice and we had a chat, where he gave insights about how the syndrome impacts his daily routine at the workplace.
What's your role at BT?
I am currently on an apprenticeship in BT and placed in the Transparent Services team. Here, I am learning all about routing and switching, firewalls and other security related services.
In addition to this, I have been undergoing apprenticeship studies and exams alongside my regular responsibilities and duties. This has given me a wide range of IT knowledge of both software and hardware.
Day to day duties range from handling support tickets for alarms of devices to working alongside field engineers at all hours to trouble shoot or configure devices.
Alongside these, I have been learning to programme in Python and other languages to help me learn the many scripts that are useful, also gaining experience working on major vendor kit (Cisco, Juniper and Checkpoint) and new generation technologies such as Virtual Machines which are set to be a big part of the future of IT.
Tell us about your Asperger’s and how it affects you?
I was 8 when my parents told me I had Asperger’s and I remember feeling relieved in a way. Until that point, I was so confused why everyone else acted so strange! Since then I have learnt a lot about Asperger’s and the main ways I deal with it.
Mainly it causes extended socialization and face to face conversations to be immensely mentally exhausting and I can suffer from quite bad nerves when established plans/meetings are changed last minute (but such a thing is unavoidable in any workplace as I have learnt over the years!).
Communication can sometimes be a little frustrating, verbally,as when I am tired, I can find it hard to phrase thoughts in a coherent way to anyone else but over the years I have learnt much better methods to handle such occasions.
How did you find the recruitment process?
I found the BT apprentice scheme whilst job hunting. I was looking for a career change into IT, which I have had a lifelong passion for, but hadn’t had the opportunity for. Application was easy, various online forms (Several for job relation information and qualifications, one for specifically any disabilities I had).
After a couple of days, I received a phone call from BT to confirm some information and to discuss the next steps through with me. They confirmed I had ticked yes to having several disabilities and they were very helpful and thorough in lining out exactly how the application would go and what was needed of me. Amusingly, I was told I didn’t have to do the video answering questions until the day AFTER I had already recorded and sent off my video!
From there, I attended an assessment day, with 6 other candidates, where we spent the day doing both group exercises and one on one interviews. Throughout I was made to feel safe and comfortable, enabling me to exceed enough to secure one of the placements for the apprenticeship.
Do you do anything differently to your colleagues, as a result of Asperger’s?
For the most part, my disabilities haven’t been an issue at all in my work and studies. I feel very lucky to have such a welcoming team who make me feel both valued as a colleague and respected. My team was very welcoming from day one and answered any questions I had (and there were many!) and explained everything is a both clear and professional manners.
My managers especially have been incredibly accommodating of my needs in the workplace. I was asked early if I felt like I required anything else to help me settle in and to help adjust to the role.
With their support, as I continued working on my apprenticeship, any issues or concerns I had were accommodated for or discussed in a quick manner and really helped relieve stress and allow me to focus on my studies and work role.
How do you feel working at BT?
I have greatly enjoyed working at BT, I find the technology I work on to be fascinating and the future of Virtual Machines is of particular interest to me. I find, due to all the support I have been given, that I am able to learn things at a quicker rate than I thought and my passion and proficiency in IT has grown directly because of this.
Day to day work has its regular challenges associated with it. My commute into work is particularly long but I know if things get too much or if I need a break from it I can contact my manager to make accommodations to ensure I continue working at my best level.