Job hunting in the creative industry while autistic: “We have to pretty much hide our traits”

There have also been some assessments where it seems like they want me to make perfectly good work for free. Sure, coming up with a low-budget ad campaign for skincare products was fun, but when you have to make an Instagram reel about how to make the best sandwich in London, whilst applying for an apprenticeship that’s less than £10k a year, you just feel used – especially when you’re neurodivergent and barely have the energy.
Thank goodness I later agreed to the interview. The team at Creative Lives have made me learn to value myself on what I feel I have achieved, rather than only relying on external validation. They told me not to be afraid – my approach in cold contacting artists and photographers who I envy is slowly going from “please like me!”, to “que sera sera”. They know that oftentimes, work can be a slow, even difficult process. They’re almost too caring about my physical and mental health.
Know your worth, and don’t overwork yourself for too little money to survive on. Trust your instincts – even if things seem nice on the surface, a hard time may lurk beneath. You can assume that you’ll be valued in certain workspaces, but don’t expect to find out you will be until you’re actually there. As naff as it sounds, know that your neurodivergency can make for the most creative ideas. Most of all – keep going!
A fair amount of autistic people hide their disability to make themselves more hireable. I don’t, but that’s because I’m scared to settle for working at a company who want to turn down the volume on, or even silence, my voice and point of view. When I leave, I really want to work at places where my autistic, queer, fat, working-class perspective is valued. Maybe even championed. But even then, I also don’t want to be a box-ticker, hired to be diversity window-dressing.
Even then, rejection can hit particularly hard as someone who’s part of a minority group seen by the masses as objectified inspiration porn at best, and an incapable waste of space at worst. After rejection upon rejection, I thought that I wasn’t meant to work for anyone and that I’d have to make money on my own, selling horoscopes – something which turned out to be soul-crushing. In fact, I originally turned down the interview at Creative Lives. However, the hiring manager told me the company really seemed to care about me and my CV, so I decided ‘why not?’.
So what are my tips for looking for creative jobs while autistic?

Posted by Contributor