I’m sure there have been times when new colleagues may have underestimated my professional abilities when meeting me for the first time and knowing nothing of my background, but those initial perceptions from others have never shaken me.
I can imagine how uncomfortable it might be to ask a person of color how they feel or what they think about things that are happening in this country every day. I can even understand that people might not want to have those conversations at work out of fear of saying the wrong thing. But I believe that we can only begin to address those issues through mutual understanding, which requires open and honest conversations.
Working in industries where there are very few people of color has often made me experience Imposter Syndrome. I would look around and longed to see more people who looked like me and shared similar upbringing or experiences. I felt like I didn’t belong and that I was given the job by mistake... It was thanks to a Career Coach who helped me address these feelings and gave me perspective that I was able to turn things around.
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned thus far is that you are never 100% ready for any role. I think the best roles are those where you have roughly 50% new skills to learn and ~50% where you can draw on prior skills and experiences. If there is a role where you already have more than 50% of the skills or experiences required then you are probably not pushing yourself hard enough.
Your career is your professional reputation. My first job post college was not intellectually challenging. As a result, there were days when I definitely slacked off and would commit careless mistakes. My boss called me out on this and I’m glad he did. His point was simple. If I wanted to be trusted with the bigger things, I had to do the little things right first.
Introspection and self-reflection are critical. If you can’t motivate yourself to ensure that your career is progressing then there’s a serious problem. No one can make you hungry. Hunger is innate. I’m motivated by knowing that my career is still a work in progress and I have not yet mastered my role.
"My grandmother always tells me to enjoy the phase you’re in and I didn’t really grasp the essence of what that meant until after I graduated from college. I look back and am so appreciative of my 4 years, but I know there were times where I didn’t appreciate experiences and opportunities as much as I could have."