‘It felt like a boulder was being lifted off of my chest.’

By: Jessica Bonardi

How ADVANCE helped V Teamer Jake Buchnat open up about life with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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On today’s episode of Up To Speed, we meet Jake Buchnat, a Charlotte, N.C. based Field Operations Senior Analyst at Verizon Connect.

Jake shared that in the 5th or 6th grade, he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, which is now called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). While in college he says he struggled with job interviews but was thrilled when in 2018, he landed an internship with Verizon Connect in our Rolling Meadows,IL office.

“One misconception about people with Autism is that they are incapable of holding a full time job and that is not the case at all,” Jake said.

Fast forward to his first 7-months as a full time employee, Jason said he avoided telling everyone except his supervisor and the Human Resources department about his condition, for fear of discrimination. But when a fellow V Teamer shared a personal story with the help of the Black Originators, Leaders and Doers (BOLD) Employee Resource Group (ERG), he felt inspired and empowered to share his own story.

“It felt like a boulder was being lifted off my chest,” Jake said. “My supervisor noted how thankful she was to have someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder on her team and thanked me for putting myself out there.”

Jake has since joined our Advocates for Disability, Accessibility, Neurodiversity, and Caregiver Empowerment (ADVANCE) ERG, which he credits with providing him with resources to continue learning and developing his skills. In fact, he’s already busy planning and looking forward to his next career goal within our company.

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