A young man with autism who was very concerned about having a good career recently penned an honest cover letter to his future employer and posted it on LinkedIn.
The letter went viral in no time. “My name is Ryan Lowry, I am 19 years old, I live in Leesburg, Virginia, and I have autism,” he wrote.
He explained in the letter that one of his unique qualities was that he has a unique sense of humor, and is gifted at math and technology and is a quick learner.
The letter was written with one goal: to get a job in animation or IT.
“I realize that someone like you will have to take a chance on me, I don’t learn like typical people do,” Lowry wrote. “I would need a mentor to teach me, but I learn quickly, once you explain it, I get it. I promise that if you hire me and teach me, you’ll be glad that you did.”
He wrote that he will show up every day and work hard, and the sheer sincerity and determination that he wrote the letter out of touched many people.
No wonder the post received more than 180,000 reactions and more than 6,000 comments on LinkedIn and was noticed by many people including Aaron Parry, an executive at a 3D and animation studio.
Parry brought Lowry’s story to Exceptional Minds, an academy, and studio for digital artists and animators with autism. David Siegel, executive director at Exceptional Minds, knew Lowry was a perfect candidate for the academy, which trains people with autism in the art of animation and helps them with job placement.
“We see it every day with our students and our graduates…what makes you different makes you extraordinary,” Siegel said. “And what [Lowry] did stood out to me as the leader of this organization and frankly everyone that’s part of our team here as truly something extraordinary.”
“He approached this with grace, with humility, with vulnerability, and frankly, with a very clear ask, ‘I want to work in animation,’” Siegle continued. He said after reading Lowry’s post, Exceptional Minds felt they had “no choice” other than to offer him a scholarship to the Exceptional Minds summer program.
Parry’s company sponsored Lowry’s scholarship and Exceptional Minds decided to surprise him and his family, virtually, with the offer.
“It was really exciting to watch it unfold and to see their surprise, it was really beautiful and it was authentic. And I think it was a beautiful way to close the loop on part of this story, which frankly, has just begun,” Siegel said.
Lowry is going to take virtual classes for eight weeks of summer through Exceptional Minds which will be virtual due to the pandemic.
Siegel said teaching this way allows them to reach more students who don’t have physical or socioeconomic ability to get to take in-person classes with them.
“Ryan is just another amazing example of when you use your authentic voice, whether you have autism or no matter where you’re coming from, that authentic voice has lead him here,” Siegle said.
“He was serving frankly, as a self-advocate, and I think what he’s become is a role model for the autism community.”