NeuroConnect: Matching Neurodivergent Students and Neurodivergent Professionals Online
By Ada Chung
January 20, 2022
I recently received funding to complete a service project called NeuroConnect that offers a way for neurodivergent students and neurodivergent professionals to be matched online. The project was born out of addressing the unemployment amongst neurodivergent individuals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, 13.4% of people with a disability ages 16-64 were unemployed, compared to 7.9% of people in the same age group with no disability.
The funding was awarded through the Donald A. Strauss foundation and funds go towards both my service project and my academic journey. NeuroConnect has been a passion project that I have been working on as of summer 2020 and had to halt because I was unsure of how to continue the project without gathering funds.
For other students who are interested in funding their service projects, I would advise students to find topics that they are passionate about and make a detailed proposal on how they would go about solving or addressing their topic. I would also advise students to make meaningful professional connections because they can be helpful in writing letters of recommendation for scholarships and funding opportunities. Personally, my professional connections have been overwhelmingly generous and have helped review my proposal and give advice on my project.
NeuroConnect as a site will include modules that include the basics of applying for jobs, job accommodations, and the legal policies that protect individuals with disabilities. In addition to connecting students with neurodivergent professional mentors, NeuroConnect will also offer free interview practice with student volunteers. Volunteers will conduct interview questions and give feedback to students so students feel more prepared when going into actual interviews. NeuroConnect is currently working with UC-LEND clinic to get patient referrals and also with the UCLA Career Center to create webinars.
Currently, NeuroConnect is still a work in progress and we are looking for volunteers who are interested in helping provide mock interviews for neurodivergent students and those interested in informational content development. To get involved, fill out this form and we will be in contact with you: https://forms.gle/SinycN5RxuLT77C58. To keep updated with the project follow: @neuroconnect_ucla on Instagram.