My guest on this episode of Science 4-Hire is Dell’s Danielle Biddick, the company’s neurodiversity hiring program manager. She joined me to talk about what neurodiversity is, what the key ingredients of a neurodiversity hiring program are, and how Dell is implementing such a program for their workforce.
So what is neurodiversity? According to Biddick, it’s “a term that describes the neurologic functioning that diverges from the societally deemed ‘normal’ neurotype.” Of course how we define “normal” is relative, so let’s dig a little deeper. “It essentially just describes natural variances in the brain that result in different ways of thinking, learning, and socializing,” Biddick says.
Neurodiverse individuals can include people on the autism spectrum as well as those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, dyslexia and dyspraxia, among others. You probably know neurodivergent individuals and may even already work with neurodiverse talent. “Statistically speaking, if we’re working on a team of 15 people or more,” Biddick says, “your team is very likely already neurodiverse.”
If you want to learn more about neurodiversity hiring programs and what neurodiversity in the workplace can do for your organization, check out my conversation with Danielle Biddick.
How Dell’s Neurodiversity Hiring Program Helps Candidates
Dell’s neurodiversity program is designed to provide career readiness training and opportunities for neurodivergent candidates, Biddick says. Her team has done that by updating the hiring process to be more flexible and accommodating.
“We understand that the traditional interview process can be very limiting for some people and not really give them the opportunity to fully showcase their skills,” Biddick says. “So we’ve created an alternative interview experience.” Some folks who identify as neurodivergent, for example, may struggle to pick up on social cues or “read between the lines” in an interview setting.
Instead of the traditional interview process, Biddick’s team works with the hiring manager to design a skill-based project that the candidate can work on over the course of a week (or more). For example, if a manager needs someone who can code in Python, a skill-based project in the computer programming language can showcase the candidate’s work experience and performance potential.
“Through that experience, managers are able to assess the candidates’ learning style and their natural approach to problem-solving — and it really gives them a firsthand look at how their skills could contribute to the team,” Biddick says. “What does this person add to the team, and how can they contribute to the work that we’re doing?”
In addition to the test project, Dell offers professional development workshops for neurodiverse candidates before the interview or any other interactions with hiring managers. Topics include items such as workplace relationships, working remotely, and how to organize and prioritize workloads. With these focuses, even candidates who don’t get hired can glean valuable insights from the experience.
The program also offers support, such as career coaching, for newly hired neurodiverse employees. Career coaches can help new hires navigate stressors and process feedback. The coach can interact directly with the employee’s manager to help them understand more about neurodivergence.
And obviously, the program is resonating: It boasts a 93% conversion rate from the paid internship program to a long-term career path and a stunning 98% retention rate.
How Dell’s Program Positively Affects Wider Diversity and Inclusion Goals
Hiring for neurodivergence isn’t just for neurodiverse employees — it can inspire the whole workforce and advance your wider diversity and inclusion initiatives.
“[Managers] really value the way that some of these neurodivergent employees come in and they just look at things differently,” Biddick says. “And it really opens up the eyes of other team members and gives them new ways of problem-solving and thinking about things.”
As the program grows, more people at Dell are learning about neurodiversity and becoming more comfortable sharing their experiences. That type of visibility can drive a much greater sense of inclusion.
“I think to have that kind of representation is just huge,” Biddick says. “And it’s also allowed us to have other senior leaders across the company disclose or talk about their own personal connections to the neurodivergent community.” Over time, the program is cultivating a more welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone.
Of course, there’s still progress to be made. “The only way that we can really get this talent inserted into the workforce at a macro level is by seeing other companies moving in this direction,” Biddick says. In partnership with several other organizations, Dell created the Career Connector program, connecting neurodiverse talent to career opportunities.
Why Dell Hopes to One Day Eliminate the Program
Dell’s neurodiversity hiring program is blossoming. “We’re continuing to grow and scale by offering more direct-hire opportunities, bringing people directly into full-time roles on a more regular basis throughout the year,” Biddick says.
Ultimately, Biddick would like to see hiring norms progress to the point that we no longer need special programs to accommodate neurodiverse candidates. “The goal is to … have this become more embedded into our mainstream talent acquisition processes and really have it woven into the fabric of how we hire people and how we support them along the way,” Biddick says.
In the meantime, other companies are picking up on the trend, such as Goldman Sachs’ Neurodiversity Hiring Initiative and DXC Technology’s DXC Dandelion Program. The more that companies normalize hiring for neurodiversity, the less likely these programs will be required.
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Read the Transcript
Welcome to Science 4-Hire with your host, Dr. Charles Handler. Hiring is hard. Pre-hire talent assessments can help you ease the pain. Whether you don’t know where to start or you just want to stay on top of the trends, Science 4-Hire provides 30 minutes of enlightenment on best practices and news from the front lines of the employment testing universe. So get ready to learn as Dr. Charles Handler and his all-star guests blend old-school knowledge with new-wave technology to educate and inform you about all things talent assessment.
Dr. Charles Handler:
Hello everyone, and welcome to the latest episode of Science 4-Hire. I’m your host, Dr. Charles Handler, and I am super-excited to have a guest that I think is going to provide us with some really unique perspective today. Danielle Biddick, who is the program manager for Dell’s neurodiversity hiring initiative. I just was reading as I was doing a little research that Dell is the number two company in the whole globe at neurodiverse hiring programs. So congratulations to you, Danielle. I’m really looking forward to learning about what you all are doing and, as I always do, pass the work on to my guests to introduce themselves because who knows you better than you?
Awesome. Well, hey, thanks. First, I just really want to tell you how much I appreciate this opportunity, and thank you so much for having me here today. But as you are aware, I’m Danielle Biddick. I work for Dell Technologies, and I lead our hiring strategy for individuals with disabilities across North America. Within that encompasses our neurodiversity hiring program, which I really lead from start to finish in partnership with some really fantastic community partners that I’ll tell you about as we go on here.
Dr. Charles Handler:
Yeah, I think the first thing, this is pretty obvious, I guess. And I will admit, until probably nine months ago or so, I didn’t really know what neurodiversity was. I did know what it was, but I didn’t know the title and all that. I think it’s really important to level-set for our audience. What is neurodiversity? How do you define it and why is it so important?
Yeah. Yeah, that’s a great question. Neurodiversity really is a newer term that’s been coined over the past 10 years or so, so I’m not surprised that a lot of people aren’t super familiar with it. But it’s also a term that describes the neurologic functioning that diverges from the societally deemed “normal” neurotype. But what does normal mean these days anyway? It essentially just describes natural variances in the brain that result in different ways of thinking, learning and socializing.
To give you some examples of what types of diagnoses fall under that umbrella term — some are ADHD, autism, Tourette’s syndrome, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and all of those are just diagnoses that fall under that term neurodiversity. To give you some perspective on what the prevalence looks like right now, according to the CDC, the current estimate is that one in 44 are autistic, one in 10 have ADHD or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; ADHD. One in 10 are dyslexic, I’m actually dyslexic myself, and one in 162 have Tourette’s syndrome. With all of that being said, at least one in 15 are neurodivergent. Statistically speaking, if we’re working on a team of 15 people or more, your team is very likely already neurodiverse.
Dr. Charles Handler:
Yeah, that’s really interesting. I’m proud to admit I’m slightly ADHD. I think if you really think about it, we as work psychologists, or even psychologists in general, we look at individual differences. We know everybody’s different, we know that different people bring different levels of all kind of things to any situation they walk into. If you look at the numbers and your stats track with — again, my pre-research was about 20% of the population globally could be considered under the definition of neurodiverse — there’s folks that are obviously stronger in the differences than others. But overall, these differences are good, and how can we help those good differences manifest?
I know it’s probably not a simple thing. I look forward to hearing a little bit more about what you all are doing, the fantastic work that you’ve undertaken. I think again, because we’re hiring job-specific track here with this podcast and with what I do mostly, are there job titles as you get into the program just as a high level at Dell or otherwise, specific job titles that are most common for applicants who come in under the idea that they’re neurodiverse? I would never think that when I’m applying for a job that, “Oh, I’m slightly ADHD, so I’m neurodiverse.” But there are others that I think it’s more clear. Explain a little bit about jobs and how that all fits together.
Yeah, yeah. That’s a great question. Before I even touch on that, I do want to call attention to the reason why this is important. You asked me that initially. And I think that celebrating and recognizing neurodiversity, it’s not only really, really important, but it’s crucial. It’s a crucial component of creating an inclusive workplace. At Dell, we truly believe that diversity drives innovation, and when you bring diverse perspectives to the table and different ways of thinking and problem-solving and idea-sharing and, ultimately, learning will occur. If we don’t consider differences in the ways that we bring these people in the door, then we’re really missing out on bringing extremely skilled and qualified candidates to our workforce.
Going over to your question now around, what are the common job types? That’s tough to answer because everyone is so different, and truly, there’s no one-size-fits-all job type or approach to hiring. At Dell, we don’t necessarily place candidates into one specific area or role type in the organization. Our program really provides opportunities across the business. With that being said, we are a technology company, and so we do offer a lot of really important roles that are critical to technology functions across the business. Things like cybersecurity, data analytics, software engineering, automation. We see a lot of interest from candidates in those areas, and we also have a lot of success in the outcomes that we see.
But more recently, we’ve also seen success in areas that aren’t as technical, like marketing and content production and even finance and pre-sales. The work that these individuals are doing and creating, they’re leading to increased efficiencies and new ways of thinking across the company. I can give you some examples of that if you’d like.
Dr. Charles Handler:
Yeah, yeah. I can’t wait to hear those. I will say, I guess I just served you up a really great opportunity to educate people about it because I already was starting to think there’s certain jobs, there’s certain roles that neurodiverse people are predisposed to. But no, it’s actually not the case, it’s any job or any role. That’s really good insight, thank you.
This whole topic is such an opportunity for education because I do think, again, people have preconceived notions or they don’t really understand. I’ve worked a lot with the idea of culture add, that when you’re looking to build a high-performing company, it’s good to have very diverse perspectives, you don’t want homogeneity in who you’re hiring. This really fits so well with that idea. I think a lot of times, it’s very easy for me to talk about, “oh, culture add, get people with diverse thinking styles.” How do you do that?
Actually operating and executing on that concept becomes a lot more difficult. It’s easy for someone like me to talk about it in general, but it’s harder. I think, this is with inclusivity in general, it’s easy to talk about it, but what are people actually doing to do the good work that’s needed to execute on it?
I think that’s a good segue. Tell me a little bit about the program, anything honestly, from how it started and how it works, all that good stuff.
For Dell’s program specifically, and there are a number of employers out there that do this, and I said this earlier, but there’s no-one-size-fits all approach to hiring. This is just one example of how Dell does it, but we designed our neurodiversity program to provide career-readiness training and full-time career opportunities for neurodivergent job seekers. We launched in Boston in 2018, we started really, really small. Then following a successful pilot, we brought the program to Austin, where we have our headquarters in 2019. Again, with a pretty small group of folks. Then when the pandemic hit, we didn’t let it stop us, and we actually began recruiting more nationally, and we started hiring people to work remotely. That just allowed us to really grow and expand the program twofold since then.
I’ll backtrack a little bit about what it looks like and provide you with some details of how we actually facilitate this. We understand that the traditional interview process can be very limiting for some people and not really give them the opportunity to fully showcase their skills. So we’ve created an alternative interview experience in partnership with Neurodiversity in the Workplace, which is an organization that’s based in The Arc of Philadelphia. They helped us design this skill-based hiring model that really helps us cut bias by focusing solely … on a candidate’s core competencies for the role.
Essentially, we’re replacing the question of “what does this person fit?” or “will this person show up well on the team?” We want to change that way of thinking and replace it with “what does this person add to the team and how can they contribute to the work that we’re doing?” With that, we’ve developed multiple pathways to bring candidates in the door, whether they’re applying for an internship or a full-time position, this alternative interview is really a key component of the program.
Through that process, we allow candidates to work on a skill-based project over the course of a week. That skill-based project is really designed in partnership with our hiring managers so that we can understand what’s needed in the roles that they’re applying to. For example, if a manager needs someone that can code in Python, then we’re going to ensure that that candidate demonstrates that through this skill-based project. Through that experience, managers are able to assess the candidates’ learning style and their natural approach to problem-solving, and it really gives them a firsthand look at how their skills could contribute to the team. That’s one component, that project that they work on.
In addition to that, we also offer a series of professional development workshops for the candidates to participate in prior to interacting with the managers. These are optional for candidates, but they’re designed to really help them feel more prepared for the work environment at Dell. Some of the topics that we talk about are things like workplace relationships and working remotely and organizing and prioritizing your work. Our hope is really that the candidates will participate in those workshops and that they’ll be valuable for them, regardless of whether or not they end up getting hired on at Dell. Obviously that’s our goal, but if they don’t end up working with us, then they can take some of that for future opportunities.
But for the folks that we do hire on, we also offer a circle of supports to them once they’re in the door. That’s a really other crucial component of this program. Some of those supports include a career coach, and that career coach works for an external organization. We work with The Arc of the Capital Area in Texas and with HMEA in Massachusetts. That career coach helps them with things like managing stress or navigating interpersonal challenges and processing feedback from their manager. But what’s really great about the career coach is they also have the opportunity to check in with managers and ensure that expectations are being met. And they can provide that on-the-go training to managers so, if small things come up, then they can use that as an opportunity to educate the manager on how to more effectively support the individual. It allows them to fill gaps along the way while they’re at the same time training the manager.
Then we offer mentorships with other individuals across the company. Our employee resource group has been really helpful in providing mentorship opportunities, and that employee resource group is actually focused on individuals with disabilities. They have that personal relationship to some of these individuals that we hire, and they can provide that cultural perspective about working with Dell. Then the last thing I’ll mention is that we also train our managers. We provide a training that really just breaks down what neurodivergence is, and it demystifies stereotypes along the way and provides some practical tips for managers around how they can support team members.
Dr. Charles Handler:
Wow, it’s a comprehensive program. I mean, it’s really from beginning to — it doesn’t end once someone gets hired, which makes a lot of sense. Some reflections I have on that — and thank you for laying that out — there’s a lot of things that I think just fit best practices in general for hiring and some interesting things. When I was talking about executing on culture add and the way I’ve been thinking about it, I really did deem it a little bit as a last-mile problem. That is, hiring managers are the ones that truly know what’s needed on their team to round it out.
But a lot of times, hiring managers don’t always get the opportunity to interact at that level. I mean, I guess they might say, “I need someone like this or that,” but they’re not necessarily always getting candidates that are going to be exactly mapped onto that. But they also don’t get, and this is what I really like, a one-week-long, in-the-trenches, or in-the-job, or project-based — a replica of the job or some part of the job — exposure to a candidate. I think that’s really great. I mean, my model for the future of “how do we hire people” is to give them opportunities to do parts of the job and be observed and evaluated. We don’t normally get that, especially on a pre-hire situation. It just doesn’t make sense a lot of times from an efficiency standpoint, which is too bad, because the more you get someone in the saddle, so to speak, and able to be doing exactly what they do on the job, you really get a greater understanding of what they bring to the table.
Yeah, we always say “ask the person.”
Dr. Charles Handler:
Yeah, exactly. You’re really living that culture-add definition at the last mile. Here’s a question I’m curious about. We deal a lot with fairness in hiring, there’s certain myths that I like to debunk, but there’s the idea that testing actually has bias. “Oh, tests are biased.” Well, they can be, but honestly, people with my background have been working to fight bias since the ’60s. I’m not claiming that we’re special or anything, I’m saying we focused on this issue for a very long time, and now it’s starting to become something that’s more focused across the board, which is great.
But when you think about fairness in hiring, one of the things is you’ve got to give every applicant the same experience. You may have applicants that are going through this separate track. Now we could easily say that’s a reasonable accommodation under the ADA if you have a diagnosis. That’s probably one way to make sure you’re covered. But have you all thought about that? Or is there any concern or any way that you help manage that? I mean, maybe it is that reasonable accommodation idea.
Yeah, you’re exactly right. This is considered an accommodation, this interview experience. Ultimately, this is something that we see practiced across other pieces, other parts of our organization, too — the opportunity to work on something and demonstrate those skills through the interview experience. It’s nothing new to us, it’s just a major component of how we hire specifically for this program. So it is just an accommodation, but we’re always continuing to grow and learn along the way. We are constantly evaluating feedback from our program alumni to see ways that we can improve or make changes to the program.
We have an advisory committee of folks that we’ve hired on that really help us with new ways of thinking about hiring and designing our projects or even the interactions that we have with managers. We invite those program alumni to come in and speak to the candidates to share their experience and give them advice as they’re going through the process. That’s been really valuable for us.
There isn’t much difference as far as accommodations go, other than yeah, that interview experience. Then there are some things that we offer as additional supports along the way, but it’s really person-centered in how people approach it.
Dr. Charles Handler:
Great, that’s a good segue. If you have — I don’t want to put you on the spot — but any stories, any things out of all this you’ve been doing that stick out where it’s a heartwarming thing or a really good success story that you’ve experienced? People love stories, I love stories.
Oh, I have so many. Well, we hired one person through the program that, it was an eight-week project that was assigned by the manager, they finished it in two weeks. I hear feedback like that from managers all the time about how they really value the way that some of these neurodivergent employees come in, and they just look at things differently, and it really opens up the eyes of other team members and gives them new ways of problem-solving and thinking about things. Which just shows that by opening up the door to this very unique talent pool, then we’re opening up other possibilities for the future of our workforce.
But another story that I really love is that recently, we just closed out a hiring program, and one of our managers who is participating in the program, he’s based in Ireland. And because of the time difference, he couldn’t participate in the interviews. So I suggested that he have another manager or someone that’s higher up on his team to participate in his place. He actually asked if he could have someone that he hired through the program a couple years back participate. We welcomed this person that actually came through the program three years ago to now be sitting in as a hiring leader, making decisions, assessing the talent that we were bringing in. She was on the other end of the table this time around, so she told the candidates that. She said, “Hey, I was in your shoes a couple of years ago, and now look.”
I think to have that kind of representation is just huge, and it’s also allowed us to have other senior leaders across the company disclose or talk about their own personal connections to the neurodivergent community. That’s just increased awareness and, I think, ultimately created a more inclusive environment for everyone at the company, but especially neurodivergent employees.
Dr. Charles Handler:
Yeah, that’s awesome. I mean, I think that’s really an interesting byproduct of this that is not to be ignored, is the spark or the infusion of energy, in a certain way, that a person can bring to a team where others can see that, “oh, they are thinking about this differently.” It can be a catalyst for great stuff. We know, I mean, there’s so much research out there and evidence — love evidence-based stuff — that teams that are neurodiverse — or diverse in general, really, I will say, especially in the cognitive or experiential realm — cognitive diversity or experiential diversity are higher-performing teams. Organizations that have those kind of programs are higher-performing organizations. There has to be something to that. This isn’t just paying lip service to, “oh, we have to be more inclusive.” Everybody wants us to be more inclusive, so we’re going to say we’re more inclusive. It goes way beyond that, and I think that’s really cool.
We talked about some individual success stories. I’m glad to hear there’s a lot of them. Any more macro level analytics or anything that you all have done to help support the position here?
We don’t want this to be a secret. We want to share our expertise with other employers, with large or small, what have you, because the only way that we can really get this talent inserted into the workforce at a macro level is by seeing other companies moving in this direction. We’re actually part of the Neurodiversity at Work employer roundtable, which is hosted by Disability:IN. There’s, I think, over 45 companies now that are involved, and all of the companies that are involved have to have had a program up and running for at least a year to participate. We recently just created a Career Connector in partnership with all of these roundtable members. That Career Connector serves as a job board for neurodivergent job seekers. It’s a way for them to get connected to other companies that have these active programs and support circles in place, so that they know that they can enter a workforce that’s going to be inclusive and supportive to them.
We just love the collaboration that we have with this roundtable. We meet on a monthly basis, and we talk about best practices, share the work that we’re all doing and ultimately learn from each other. If there are any employers or candidates listening, I would encourage you to check out the Career Connector. I’m pretty sure if you just type in Neurodiversity at Work employer roundtable or career connector, it’ll pop up.
Dr. Charles Handler:
It’ll be in the show notes, for sure, so that’ll be good. I like to tie back to some bigger themes that are very prevalent in my world, in the world of hiring in general. There’s a lot of momentum toward not even looking at people’s resumes or anything. More of “hey, there’s going to be bias towards where you went to school or who you might have worked for in the past. We don’t want those things … to contaminate what’s going on.” I’m just curious, from a background perspective, are most of the folks that are coming through your program, do they have a traditional educational background? Is a lot of it where you’re able to say, “you know what, we don’t really care about your resume”? Show up and show us what you’re interested in, and you may have had some experience, and then let’s do the project that you all have, and let’s really learn about you that way. A little bit of information about that would be very interesting.
Yeah, yeah. That’s a great point because we do find that a lot of the folks that we bring through this program have non-traditional resumes in that actually, some people have master’s degrees, but they were stocking shelves at their local grocery store. Sometimes through our traditional screening processes, those types of resumes get screened out because they have gaps in them. Or they’re like, “Well, why haven’t you had a full-time role,” or, “Why are you working at Walmart instead of a tech company if you have this fantastic degree?” We really try to not only train our managers and some of our talent acquisition professionals on that component, but we also don’t necessarily require people to have a degree because we realize that a lot of people just are self-taught and that maybe college isn’t their preferred way of learning. We know some people that have come through the program who maybe took a year or two of college and then dropped out, or some that maybe didn’t take any college education at all.
It’s a wide range, and we don’t limit that expectations around degree or even job experience to come into play when we’re evaluating the types of candidates to bring in.
Dr. Charles Handler:
Very cool. All of you talent acquisition folks and recruiters and whoever out there who are listening to this, who are complaining — not complaining, because it is a real thing — but really experiencing a talent shortage right now, maybe, just maybe it would behoove you to start looking for talent in some different places. Because there is talent out there, and the more you just search in the traditional places and the more those places might dry up or not yield what you’re looking for, because of all the crazy things going on in the world these days, the more important it is to understand that you got to break the mold a little bit and get creative.
The example of people that are highly qualified for your jobs, in jobs that aren’t necessarily what they want to be doing, because they fall through the cracks. Or they may not even have the empowerment to push through. Whatever it is, I think that’s a really, really good thing, and I’m sure it helps you all very much.
Do you have any numbers of how many people are hired through your program like this in a yearly basis? I’m sure it’s growing, I’m sure it ebbs and flows, but …
Yeah, that’s very true. I mean, it’s grown really exponentially over the past couple of years. I’m proud to say that we have 93% conversion rate from interns that we convert to full time. So of the interns that we bring in, a high majority of them convert to full-time employment. Then we have a 98% retention rate, as well. We’ve seen that they’re really loyal to the company. They have this quality to consistency and to make sure that they are [aren’t] withholding their end of the bargain when they are applying for these jobs. They really want to show up and show what they can do.
Dr. Charles Handler:
Yeah, that’s got to also be inspiring to other people. But there’s just this interesting purity of spirit to be that way. But there’s a really, really interesting thing going on that I think we can all take note of and all really learn from, as well. That’s what it’s all about, is just being elbow to elbow with people that are very different in different ways. It’s great.
Do you have any plans to expand the program? I mean, it sounds very successful. It’s a model for folks that are listening on this topic, but what’s the future look like? How are you going to parlay what you’ve done so far, I think, into doing more?
Definitely, yeah. We’re continuing to grow and scale by offering more direct-hire opportunities, bringing people directly into full-time roles on a more regular basis throughout the year. We started off just with those internships. And after the success of all of our internships, we’re now focused more on just bringing people directly in because we’ve proven that they are ready to work and that they can do the jobs.
Beyond that, we’re also looking at expanding to Canada this year. Right now, the program only sits in the U.S., but after we grow to Canada, I see us going to other regions in the next year or so. I mean, ultimately, we don’t always want this to exist as a program, to be completely honest with you. We love that it’s brought attention to this really talented pool of candidates, but that was the goal, is to bring attention to it, build up the program and then move past that program phase and have this become more embedded into our mainstream talent acquisition processes and really have it woven into the fabric of how we hire people and how we support them along the way. I think that’s really the goal of the future of the program.
Dr. Charles Handler:
You’re proving the business case for that, too. I was going to ask you actually early on, I know Dell is a super-global company, tons of employees, 100,000 employees probably across the globe. I was going to ask you about the global nature of the program.
There’s definitely an appetite for it, I will say that. We just want to make sure that we have the right structures and systems in place to be able to fully execute on it and support it before we start developing in other regions.
Dr. Charles Handler:
Well, the globe is very big, and there’s a lot going on. I’ve worked what, 30 years with global enterprise companies, so I understand how you do that, but you’ve got a great case going. I’m curious, too, I usually ask this at the beginning, but as we’re closing out, and I want to give you a chance to tell people how to follow you and all the work you’re doing in this program, which you’ve already mentioned a few of those. But I didn’t ask you what your background is, how did you get into this area?
I’d be happy to share that. I mean, I disclosed earlier that I am dyslexic, and so from a young age, I think I was really just naturally interested in different learning styles and ways of interpreting the world. I was always fascinated and on that track to what I ended up getting my degree in, which was speech pathology and audiology. Before I went to get my master’s degree —I actually have not done that — I took a little break and I started working for a nonprofit organization called PROVAIL. When I was there, I was helping individuals with disabilities gain meaningful employment opportunities, and I got connected to Microsoft. Microsoft had just launched their autism hiring program, which is now the neurodiversity program. From there, I was the career coach. I was actually on that candidate side of things, supporting them one on one, working with managers. And through that experience, I learned about the business needs and developed a program with HP after that, and then Dell sought me out and took me on to do the work here.
Dr. Charles Handler:
Very nice, that’s fantastic. I love hearing people’s career journeys and just how people find their way to something that obviously they’re very good at, very passionate about. It’s inspiring, for sure. Yeah, how can people follow you other than the things you’ve talked about with the program? Anything specific that you want to make sure our listeners know in terms of keeping up with what you’re doing?
Yeah, they can feel free to follow me on LinkedIn. It’s just my name. Danielle, D-A-N-I-E-L-L-E, Biddick, B as in boy, I-D-D-I-C-K. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. I would love to have a conversation about potentially starting a program wherever you are at. Or if you’re interested in getting connected to employment opportunities at Dell or elsewhere, feel free to reach out to me.
Dr. Charles Handler:
Awesome, thank you so much. It’s been a really good discussion. I learned a lot.
Wonderful, I’m so glad to hear that. Thank you for having me.