Growing a career with CAI Neurodiverse Solutions
What was your background prior to CAI?
I was born and grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania, in a big, close-knit family. Growing up around a lot of other people, I always felt quirky but loved. I was very detail-oriented and had a passion for learning. Anytime I’d see someone do something I didn’t understand, I’d try to teach myself so I could learn as much as possible. I realized I was good at teaching myself things, and I still love to learn.
I struggled for a while in school because I was having trouble adjusting to the environment, but I worked hard to become more comfortable. I ended up going to a smaller, private high school, which allowed me to take more difficult classes and improve in subjects where I’d previously struggled. It was around this time that my mom took me for testing, and I officially received a diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder as well as Expressive and Receptive Language Disorder, which are both neurodiverse conditions. As I learned more about my diagnoses, I realized they explained a lot of the traits I always knew I had.
Although I did struggle for a while, I never let it deter me, and today I’m able to show people who I am and what I’m good at.
What did your career path look like?
After graduating from Marywood University in 2016 with radio, communications, and media experience, I struggled with the transition to life outside of college and moving out of that environment. My first job out of college was at a fulfillment center, where I became one of their top trainers for new employees. This is where I realized my passion for leadership and advocacy, and I was able to work on those skills in this role.
Wanting more career advancement opportunities, I then transitioned to work at a medical equipment company, helping build and design parts. Eventually, I was responsible for running a laser machine and training other employees on how to use it. I felt my social skills started to improve as I continued working in this role, but I still wanted something more and knew I was capable of advancing my career beyond where I was.
How did you find CAI Neurodiverse Solutions, and what is your current role?
I found CAI Neurodiverse Solutions through Pennsylvania’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), a state-funded program designed to help people with disabilities prepare for, obtain, and hold fulfilling careers. They recommended CAI to me, and I was excited about the opportunity. Going into the interview and Talent Discovery Session, I was a bit apprehensive because I was one of the few individuals with no prior computer science experience, but the way the program is structured really allowed me to showcase my skills in other areas to the best of my ability.
When I first started working with CAI Neurodiverse Solutions, my peers and supervisors were very welcoming. During my training, they took the time to work with me on parts of the process that were difficult for me to understand by sharing some of the notes they had created for themselves. They created training module files at my request, which allowed me to practice each part of the process without accidentally messing up real data. I really appreciated that.
“I found that one-on-ones with my supervisors have been extremely helpful as we've been able to focus on clarifying unusual scenarios. We’ve discussed potential career paths, which has motivated me to continue building my skills. My coworkers and I rely on each other to complete our quarterly projects successfully."
Shortly after, I was placed on a team at a mortgage insurance company. The company was looking to ensure SOX and SOC 2 compliance, bringing in the CAI team to provide security authorization audits. I work as a Compliance Analyst on the Access Reviews Team. In this role, I facilitate manager reviews of a company database to approve or revoke access to organizational data and programs. My team also conducts quality control of the data itself, confirming if there were any employee terminations and understanding their details.
I’m grateful for this position because it has allowed me to learn something new and continue to work on my leadership skills. I update our daily standup board and collaborate with my teammates on process optimizations. The data we work with is very sensitive and subject to auditing, so we’re trusted to ensure accuracy and leverage best practices.
What’s the best part of your job?
The flexibility and stability of working from home have been awesome for me. Out of all the teams that I’ve worked with in the past, my team here is the most supportive and successful. They make me feel appreciated and like a valued member of the team, and we each have strengths that complement each other.
I can add to solutions anytime we have potential problems, and I feel appreciated when my peers say things like, “This is why we need you, Amanda.” We watch each other’s backs and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. I enjoy the managers I work with every day too—they trust us to do our work and do it well, but they’re always there to check in and support us whenever needed.
When I first met Dan, CAI Service Delivery Manager, he introduced me to Kaizen, which is a compound of two Japanese words that together translate to “continuous improvement.” I put that into perspective every day, focusing on what I can do to make my job and my teammates’ jobs easier and more fulfilling. Learning this concept and embracing it in my work has really helped me improve my leadership, mentorship, and technical skills. I’m really proud of what my team has accomplished —during our time together, we’ve reduced the number of days to complete our quarterly process from 46 to 31.
“Amanda serves as a key member of the User Access Review team that performs audit and remediation work for an important client. She learned the role quickly and provides support to other members on her team. She always brings a bright sunny disposition to the workplace. Amanda embodies the Kaizen principle of continuous improvement and strives to improve each day. I am proud of Amanda’s accomplishments.”
Without CAI, I wouldn’t be where I am. I knew I wanted a workplace that prioritized career development, and I’ve been able to grow as a person and leader as a result of my work here.
Because of the opportunities CAI Neurodiverse Solutions has given me, I’ve accepted a full-time position with the mortgage insurance company and will continue to grow in my position there. I wouldn’t change a thing about my experience and am excited to keep learning.
Watch our on-demand webinar, Creating inclusive workplaces with neurodiversity at work, to hear more from Amanda.