Specialisterne Academy helped Mathias Gustafson put his skills to work

7. Mar 2022

Mathias Gustafson has no doubts about his skills:

“I excel in data processing in Excel and pattern recognition.”

With a professional background as Cand.Scient in Physical Geography from the University of Copenhagen, Mathias Gustafson has sharp but relatively narrow skills. He is particularly effective at processing quantitative data in Excel.

Mathias now works full-time at Danske Bank

Despite his skills, it was hard to get over the hump when he completed his thesis in February 2021.

Fortunately, he had a vigilant caseworker at the job center who spotted that Specialisterne Academy was the right thing for him, so he was able to get a job.

Mathias Gustafson has just started a full-time job as a consultant at Specialisterne, where he is stationed in Danske Bank’s Compliance department. Here he will use his skills in data processing and pattern recognition to ensure that the data coming in from customers is correct.

Specialisterne Academy was a crucial bridge from unemployed to consultant. Partly because he was able to test and sharpen his skills in the Academy’s business-oriented training tasks. And partly because he got out of the stagnation and isolation that often comes with unemployment.

“It was a very positive change to go from sitting alone to being with others. In the beginning we were all very quiet, but now we talk to each other. We also have a purpose for talking to each other because we’re working on the same task. Then it makes sense.”

Training in the skills companies need

At Specialisterne Academy, candidates are assigned to solve specific tasks that Specialisterne’s team of consultants have previously solved. In this way, Academy candidates are trained in the skills and tasks that companies actually demand.

Mathias Gustafson emphasizes that it is very meaningful to work with the specific business tasks:

“It was very rewarding to solve the business tasks instead of doing “busy work”. I quickly got the data processing assignment at CBS and was there permanently, because that’s where my strengths lie.”

Traditional recruitment leaves autistic people out the door

Mathias Gustafson believes that it would have been difficult to get a job without Specialisterne Academy. Especially because he finds it difficult to kick down the door to companies when you are autistic.

Even though he is confident about his skills, he describes how difficult it is to “sell yourself” in a recruitment situation.

“I find it difficult to know what is the right thing to say to a potential new boss. In that way, recruitment is difficult when you have an autism diagnosis. In an application, for example, you can be slowed down by interpreting the job posting very literally, e.g. in relation to the qualifications mentioned in the applications. Often they just mean that you need to have the prerequisites to be able to learn it. Not that you have to know everything already.”

Read more in our other insights.

Specialisterne prepares the workplace to receive neurodivergent employees

Therefore, it has been crucial that Commercial Director for Specialisterne Bina Hjorth does a lot of the legwork for Mathias Gustafson and the other candidates in the Academy.

“Bina Hjorth is an icebreaker when it comes to contacting companies. And in my case, she was really good at “selling me” to Danske Bank. She knows what the boss needs to know. She both told them about my skills and gave them a guide to what I need in order to fit in well.”

An important tool for Bina Hjorth is that she trains the team that will receive a consultant from Specialisterne in advance. This is an important tool in the Specialisterne Management Program, which supports companies in making use of the autism advantage. In Mathias’ case, she gave a presentation to the team. This made it very concrete and down-to-earth what it means to receive an autistic employee. It removes a lot of the nervousness and doubt that a workplace can have. Read more in our other insights.

Peace of mind when starting a new job

Starting a new job can be tough for anyone. That’s why it gives Mathias Gustafson extra peace of mind to know that he can get help from Bina Hjorth and the rest of the Specialists team.

“If I’m unsure or having a hard time, I can go to Bina for help. She has taught me that it’s ok to start with 30% and then slowly increase the intensity. That way I can avoid running 120% from the start and then burning out after 3 months.”

For Mathias, it’s important to know that there is an alignment of expectations between him and the workplace. Partly because he needs a little more time in the onboarding process. And partly because it’s easy for him to push himself too hard to prove he’s good enough:

“I’m very stubborn. Too stubborn, actually. Because I burn out on it. Bina Hjorth has been really good at telling both me and my new workplace that I should start off slowly and then slowly increase the intensity”.

Mathias explains that earlier in his life, especially before he knew about his diagnosis, he used to push himself too much. Therefore, an important goal for his working life is to find a good balance so that he can have a good and sustainable working life.