This year, I was too busy and stressed to post anything on Autistics Speaking Day, despite desperately wanting to.
But there’s a reason I was too busy: I had just begun my first week of work at a full-time job since leaving graduate school. Yes, even in spite of all the employment challenges I’ve mentioned in the past, I still managed to find work in this economy.
And it’s not just any job; it’s a chance to work on something I’m quite interested in. Though my life-long dream of being a contestant on Jeopardy! still remains unfulfilled, I’ve managed to do something that you could say is functionally equivalent.
I feel safe disclosing it at this point, now that I’ve been on the job for a week, so I’ll go ahead and state it: I’m now a research engineer at Nuance Communications, working on the DeepQA project—the software powering the Watson supercomputer that defeated the two reigning Jeopardy! champs—as part of a joint research agreement between Nuance and IBM. (As an aside, to cover all the legal bases: everything I discuss below is my own personal opinion, and I’m not speaking as a representative of either Nuance or IBM.)
And this opportunity wouldn’t have been available without plenty of reasonable accommodation—which is exactly what I wanted to write about for Autistics Speaking Day.