In his viral letter, he shared his strengths and weaknesses, while noting he has autism.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that about one in 54 children is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). While symptoms may differ from person to person, those with ASD usually have a hard time with social, emotional, and communication skills. So, when 20-year-old Ryan Lowry decided to pursue a career in animation, he wrote a letter to his future employer talking about his strengths and talents, while also mentioning that he has autism. Lowry shared the handwritten letter on LinkedIn. There, he spoke about his gift with math, his unique sense of humor, and his go-getter attitude.
"I realize that someone like you will have to take a chance on me, I don't learn like typical people do," he wrote, in part. "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 added, "I will show up every day, do what you tell me to do, and work really hard." It didn't take long for Lowry's post to go viral on LinkedIn, and it was later shared on multiple social media platforms. Several people shared words of kindness while others gave him career advice and even mentorship offers.
A person named Joshua Latz commented under the letter: Hey Ryan - I too have Autism, and I know how hard this can be. If you'd like, I would be happy to help coach, teach and mentor you and help you follow your dreams of getting into the IT/tech industry where I have some experience :). Feel free to send me a message and I'll send you my contact info. Either way, don't get discouraged, you'll know what I mean when I say this, your unique way of learning and viewing the world is a gift, and it makes you very special. Another person named Jeremy Cole even offered him freelance options.
Cole shared: Hi, Ryan. I know a few people in animation and IT in Los Angeles. If that location works or if you could work remotely, I would be happy to connect you with any opportunities I can. Feel free to look at my connections and ask for introductions, or just message me and we can figure out who/what companies might interest you. I have a son on the spectrum and understand how challenging it can be to find a fit. You've made a great first step. Now let's see what can be done to get you hired. When he posted the letter, neither Ryan nor his parents Tracy and Rob Lowry expect his letter to have such a resounding impact.
"We had never thought this was going to happen and we were overwhelmed with the number of people with stories like Ryan's story, which is a really beautiful part of what's happening as well," Tracy tells PEOPLE. "We lay in bed at night and I cry reading stories of other people." Though Ryan's autism affects his social communication skills, his dad Rob believes that all this attention his son has been receiving now is "pretty cool." "Almost all of [the response] has been encouraging, supportive," he says. "One unintended consequence is that we hear from so many families that have similar circumstances to ours who are expressing their gratitude for Ryan's courage to speak out and learn more."
Since the viral letter, Ryan has received numerous offers. His family is now sifting through them and taking their time to figure out which company would be the best fit for their son. Ryan is currently part of a program in his public school district in Virginia that allows him to learn on-the-job training. He also works part-time as a barista at a local coffee shop. While Ryan's parents aren't sure what the future holds in store, they are hoping something good does come out of this. "Our mission, for however long this thing goes on, whether it's 15 minutes of fame or longer, is to make something good happen for Ryan, who deserves it and has earned it," Rob says.
"I think whoever gets him will win big time, but to also help the other families who are just like us and then finally to help out the organizations that had helped them along the way." The family is nothing but grateful for the love and support that has been pouring in for their son. "It restores your faith in humanity a little bit after all the crap we've all had to deal with in the last year or two," Rob says. "So it's been uplifting, to say the least, and gives us a lot of hope that he can get to a place that we want him to be, and he wants to be."