This is an account of one recent job search in California. Or more. You be the judge.

The job seeker is a senior at one of the California State University (CSU) campuses in the Bay Area. He has nearly a 3.0 grade average.  Also, he is a person with autism, with significant cognitive gaps and sometimes unusual behaviors.

The job seeker was looking for a summer job and started in January of this year. He applied online to 5 internships from his University’s career center. These internships were with nonprofits in Oakland, San Leandro and Hayward.  He did not receive one call-back.

He had heard that the Office of Mayor Ed Lee had internships in technology.  Mayor Lee’s Chief Innovation Officer was the recommended contact, and the job seeker e-mailed the Chief Innovation Officer several times. The Chief Innovation Officer never answered. The job seeker then e-mailed a number of the technology social media/internet commerce companies directly and applied through the online processes. In all, he e-mailed 10 firms for internships, paid and unpaid. He did not receive any call backs.

He next turned to low tech businesses, movie theatres and fast food restaurants. He finally achieved his first job interview. A meeting was set up with Mr. Richard Jones, the regional manager for ten McDonald’s properties in San Francisco/Daly City.

Mr. Jones has worked for McDonald’s for over 37 years. He started as a crew member, and worked his way up a series of management positions, as is not uncommon with McDonald’s. He manages 300 employees across the ten McDonald’s. The majority of his employees are full time.

With his McDonald’s experience, Mr. Jones quickly could see that this job seeker was not the best candidate for employment. The job seeker laughed to himself at inappropriate times. He picked up Mr. Jones’ pen and jabbed it in the air. At various times he was lost in thought and slow to respond to questions.

Mr. Jones did not end the interview, though. He patiently went through the job seeker’s experience at the University Student Union in food service, as well as the his experience  in high school at another fast food restaurant. He discussed with the job seeker the various jobs at McDonald’s beyond the food preparation including the cashier, drive-through, and lobby.  He went through the teamwork needed at each McDonald’s location, the ways that employees support each other.

According to autism employment specialists, fast food is not a good environment for persons with autism. The quick pace, constant pressure and loud noise can lead one to confusion and disorientation.

Possibly so, and there is no certainty that this job seeker will succeed. But a lot depends on the attitudes of the employer and employee. Mr. Jones was careful to find an assignment in the lobby that might fit the job seeker’s strengths and interests. We’ll see. The job seeker started at a McDonald’s in downtown San Francisco last Friday.

Job search is a series of rejections for nearly all job seekers in California these days—non-autistic as well as autistic. We all can expect submitting tens of applications online without a response.  At least for this one job seeker, McDonald’s was the one employer willing to give him a try.

So for today I say, Thank God for Richard Jones. Thank God for McDonald’s.