(Not Just After 5:00 PM)
Obviously, if attending a predominantly white institution you won’t see much variance in the people surrounding you. You’re outnumbered, of course. You’ve probably had countless experiences of being the only or one of the few persons of color in the room as well. Whether or not you had a comfortable experience is dependent upon the individual. It may even seem more of a challenge to get acquainted with your peers. Me having a strong sense of RBF did not help with this at all! Experiencing a predominately white institution for four years, assisted me in what to look for in professional setting.
With this being the fourth year in my program, I have been heavily encouraged to seek internships pertaining to my profession. These internships have a high chance at resulting in a permanent professional opportunity; therefore, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into where I’ve applied. I’ve done a countless amount of research by inquiring about the firms, searching the company’s site, and speaking with representatives. These corporations and firms are always screaming “Diversity” and “Inclusion”- you know those nice, big words to make you think they care and to draw you in. I make it a mission to ask each interviewer the importance of diversity and inclusion to their firm. I then carefully analyze their response to sense if it’s genuine. Some interviewers begin to stumble upon their words (“uh … uh … uh we’re -) and make up these excuses of how they aren’t quite “there yet” but are trying. I also try to really get to know the people who are considered potential coworkers. It’s one thing to love your job and another to actually love the people you work with.
It’s not that I am pressed to fit into a certain group of people; I simply want to be able to be comfortable at my workplace. Feeling out of place will eventually cause me to dread having to show up to work. I want to feel comfortable and accepted where I choose to start a career. This is a place where I’ll be spending 40-60 hours a week – this is vital to my livelihood. I’ve had so many encounters over the years where I couldn’t just be myself. I felt as if I had to put on a façade to get me through the day. It was like once my workday was over, I stepped out of a costume and hung it up to wear the next day. I decided that I no longer wanted to experience that. “No more!”, is what I said.
As a woman, a black woman, I have grown to love myself in a cruel world that may not! This happened once I stopped seeking validation from others. I love every aspect, every feature of myself. I exhibit self-awareness and acceptance regardless of what others may think. I want to embrace my greatness upon others including those in the workplace – not just family and friends. The thought of not being able to be authentic and true to myself is mind-boggling. I’m not going to struggle to make the pieces fit and no one should ever have to do that. Don’t be a square peg trying to fit into a round hole!