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My life has been like a roller coaster ride --- there have been steep climbs and nauseating quick drops and a lot of fast turns.

Just five years ago, I worked as a barista in the café on the 64th floor of the World Trade Center – the same building that houses the Infosys New York office. Though I have a degree in the humanities, I enjoyed participating in the performing arts, and my job afforded me the flexibility to earn a steady paycheck and benefits while simultaneously pursuing my interests in theater.

What I didn’t envision was how exhausting it would be to be on my feet all day, especially as I lived with a chronic illness. I started looking into new work opportunities. A senior developer friend suggested going to a bootcamp and learning to code; I’m neurodivergent with both ADHD and dyscalculia and was afraid I would struggle. But she suggested that my knack for pattern recognition, which is a feature of my ADHD, could potentially be a learning advantage in coding. I was all set to go to bootcamp when an Infoscion in HR (and one of my “regulars” at the café) suggested that I may want to explore openings with the Talent Acquisition team at Infosys. On a whim, I interviewed and was hired.

I had no experience in Talent acquisition. And the thought of moving from my full-time job at the coffee shop to a subcontractor at Infosys was daunting. But what I did have were interpersonal and other skills that I had cultivated from my years in the performing arts and in my daily work (for example, techniques that I’d learned as an improvisational performer and barista could be extrapolated into a corporate context to enable me in my new role.)

Today, I work on the campus recruitment team at Infosys. Right now, I’m specifically working on a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, where we develop initiatives to recruit and nurture talent from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). I’ve also worked on iPride’s National Coming Out Day Summit & Career Fair and with the Infosys Women’s Inclusivity Network (iWIN).

The time at Infosys has been challenging at times. Initially, I thought I could do it all, and eagerly dove into all the work assigned to me by my managers. But being neurodivergent meant that I struggled with certain tasks (for example, cutting and pasting on Excel could take me hours) while shining at others. There weren’t enough hours in a day to get my work done, which took a toll on my health. I finally spoke up to my manager and team members, explaining my challenges and what worked and didn’t work for me. They were very understanding and most importantly, ready to work with me. They saw the potential in me --- the ability in my disability. Now, the excel sheets are handled by someone who can zip through them, while I can really add value to the team in other ways.

I love what I do today. I progressed from being a subcontractor to a full-time employee last year. I work in areas that I am passionate about, such as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). And every day, I’m able to draw on my own life and work experiences as I help the next generation coming out of college navigate their career paths. As I listen and speak to them, I remind them that there is no single way to achieve success; and that even a disability that once may have been perceived as a weakness can become a strength. For me and them, Infosys – a champion for DEI – provides a work environment that enables everyone to leverage their unique strengths.

I’m still on that roller coaster ride, and probably always will be as I deal with my chronic illness and other challenges.

But I’ve always tightly hung on.

And I’ve found that over time, the ride – which can be scary at times – can also be exhilarating.