March 31, 2015

Joining the United Nations for World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Day

Freddie Mac is joining the United Nations for World Autism Awareness Day April 2. Our EVP and CIO Rob Lux will discuss autism in the workplace along with representatives from companies like SAP and Microsoft.

At Freddie Mac, we hire young people with autism through an innovative partnership with the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. We're opening the door to young college graduates who are on the spectrum to help them jumpstart their careers. The aim is to give them a much-needed foot in the door to help them find permanent positions that match their skills.

Watch the NBC4 story.

"I had already been out of school for over three years and I had a Bachelor's of Science and not much to show for it. I was losing hope," says Aaron Cohen who first came to Freddie Mac through our autism program. "But then I got the interview for an internship at Freddie Mac, and the internship turned into an offer," says Cohen, who is now a full-time IT data analyst here. (BBC and WSJ interview with Cohen.)

World Autism Awareness Day
Freddie Mac employee Aaron Cohen was hired first as an intern through our autism program, and then as a full-time data analyst in our IT division. Despite having a B.S. in Mathematics with a minor in actuarial science, Aaron had struggled to start his career and was working as a cashier before joining Freddie Mac.

"Individuals on the autism spectrum can be a real asset in the workplace," says Freddie Mac EVP and Chief Administrative Officer Jerry Weiss, who helped launch the program. "Yet too often, employers overlook their skills and strengths — and the value they can bring to a company. Freddie Mac's program is about innovation and opportunities. But most of all, it's about hiring untapped, exceptional talent to strengthen our workforce and move our business forward."

Lux, who has a teenage daughter on the spectrum, says: "As a parent of a child with autism, you think a lot about your child's
future. You hope they'll find meaningful work they enjoy, that allows them to contribute and be productive.
The Freddie Mac program makes a real difference for young people
on the spectrum and their families."

But he emphasizes that the program is primarily about doing good business: "It's these investments in future leaders that help you gain a competitive edge... At Freddie Mac we are committed to employing young people with autism, because they're part of our future," Lux says.

Cohen says of his new job: "I like being able to analyze data and find patterns within the data, which is where having autism can actually come in handy."

Event Program

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