Julia Lee Harter, a 2022 Dinah F.B. Cohen DREAM Fellow, interviewed Mentra to discuss the resources they provide on their online employment platform for neurodivergent individuals. The below article is written by them.
Applying to jobs is infamously frustrating. There’s so much to think about: resumes, interviews, cover letters… Having a disability can make navigating the systems put in place for job seekers even more difficult. The unemployment rate for those with disabilities is almost double the national average!
When I began searching for my first job, I quickly realized that I was going to need to take a different approach. The recruitment process set up by my university didn’t take into account my needs as a person with ADHD or look at my strengths holistically. I knew I was capable, but didn’t know how to communicate that to employers because my brain didn’t work the same way everyone else’s seemed to. Luckily, I was able to find and connect with disability-specific resources and eventually land my dream job. One resource I’ve been fortunate to connect with is Mentra, a neurodiversity hiring platform. I sat down with Mentra’s Chief Technology Officer, Shea Belsky, to learn more.
First off, can you tell me a little about Mentra?
Mentra is a neurodiversity hiring platform. We are focused on trying to bridge the hiring gap for neurodivergent job seekers —those are folks with autism, ADHD, dyslexia and other cognitive impairment disabilities. By the way, some people don’t consider neurodiversity to be a disability and some people do. It’s really kind of a back and forth. Anyway, we’re really trying to fix a lot of the problems with traditional hiring models that don’t really work for neurodivergent candidates. That could be the interview, how you apply for jobs, what you tell potential employers about yourself, or post hire support. We’re trying to really be much more of a holistic end-to-end solution for job seekers.
What does Mentra look like for job seekers who are using the platform?
If you’re a job seeker, the platform is kind of a reverse job fair model where you apply once for all the jobs that we have. You fill out a 10 to 15 minute application. Then, we use that information to match you with jobs that we think you’re best suited for. We also have Mentra profiles that kind of look like a LinkedIn profile but they focus on things that separate our applicants from neurotypical job seekers. So, for instance, what accommodations do you need to be successful? What kind of environment can you function in? It’s much more focused on showing strengths and opportunity areas or support needs.
Do applicants interview on the platform?
Once you’re connected with a job, then we work with the employer to kind of make sure that their process is neuro-inclusive and accommodating as well. We don’t just hand you off and leave you. We work with employers, such as Wells Fargo, Ernst & Young and others, to really make sure that the process is as accommodating and inclusive as possible.
What success have you seen lately?
What are Mentra’s goals for the future?
In the near term, like 6 to 12 months, we’re looking to give a full seed round of investment. What that means is we want to hire a couple more people to come on to help us with a variety of things. We’re trying to bring on more people who are really focused and passionate about this mission as we are. Beyond that, we’re trying to make the experience really positive for job seekers, partners and our employers.
Does Mentra offer any educational resources?
Yes, we create a lot of marketing content. We have a lot of different content creators and writers out there to aggregate and create original content on this subject. We also do podcasts and webinars. We’re really trying to focus on being a megaphone for people in the community.
Note: Check out Mentra’s News Page to access influencer posts, videos, publications and more!
Do you have any advice for disabled and/or neurodivergent job seekers?
The biggest thing that I would say is understanding yourself and what your strengths and struggles are. That is going to be helpful with any employer and any job. The more you know about yourself, it will make it a lot easier for you to have a conversation with an interviewer and advocate for yourself.
If you just say “I’m autistic” and walk away, it doesn’t really help your employer help you. If you’re able to go in and say, “Hey I am autistic and this is what that means to me. I struggle in these areas but I’m good at this stuff” it puts the ball in both of your courts [places responsibility on both of you]. If you’ve met one person who’s on the spectrum, you’ve met one person. We’re all different, so employers can’t really apply the cookie cutter model [using the same approach for everyone] to every single person. They have to be willing to listen.
Want to join Mentra’s Neurodiversity Employment Network?
If you are a neurodivergent job-seeker and think Mentra might be right for you, check out the Mentra job seekers page to explore further!