Excuse or Reality?

That is the question. Recently, I have seen, heard, and read that for a minority it is more difficult to get into tech. Personally, as a person of color, my experience tells me it’s an excuse.

Why is it an excuse?

Generally speaking, people tend to blame their environment when things don’t go their way. However, it’s a lot more complex than just blaming your environment.

When faced with the harsh truth of why a person did not get a particular position, I find it’s more difficult to look in the mirror and say, “Hey, I didn’t get an offer because I wasn’t good enough. Or I AM THE REASON why I didn’t get the offer.“

It’s easy to point the finger and say, “I didn’t get the job because I’m a minority or I didn’t get the job because the person didn’t like me.” Or whatever other excuse we come up with.

To be honest, it’s easy to do that. That takes no type of effort. Instead of pointing the finger to the environment, why not ask the following questions:

• Did I do everything in your power to present myself in the best possible way?
 • When I interviewed, did I show my personality? 
 • Did I give generic answers to the questions?
 • Does the company want “yes” people? Or do they want trend setters?
 • Did I have a bad day? And did it carry over to the interview?
 • Did my nerves get the better of me?
 • Did I fit the culture?
 • Did I prepare enough?
 • Did I prove I deserved the opportunity? 
 • OR was the person who was hired, simply better qualified?

The answers to these questions matter. They all play a role in the hiring process. It’s not as simple as what you look like on the outside that prevents a favorable outcome. It’s the WORK/EFFORT you place on the interview. 
 
 My History

There was a hashtag that was a popular a few weeks ago called #firstsevenjobs. I normally don’t participate in popular hashtags, but this particular hashtag peaked my interest.

As I reviewed my employment history, I surprised myself. I didn’t realize I had such a diverse work history. Why is my work history important? Well, that will become clear shortly.

Below are my #firstsevenjobs in sequential order:

1. Freedom fighter/United Stated Navy

2. Bagger

3. Forklift Operator

4. Insurance Agent

5. Cell Phone Sales (discovered I wanted a career in tech)

6. Student Loans

7. University Counselor (current role)

8. Learning code & design principles to become a front-end developer

If you notice, none of the jobs were related to each other. For example, bagging groceries did not correlate to driving a forklift. Driving a forklift did not translate to becoming an insurance agent. The only common theme between all my jobs were I interacted with people.

With my lack of experience, I could have easily blamed my environment why I shouldn’t apply for a position but I didn’t. I prepared to the best of my ability and presented myself in the best possible way I knew how. Through hard work and preparation. Up to this point, those key factors have worked in my favor.

The Reality

I know discrimination exist. I know this first hand. I have walked into a store and noticed I was being followed only because of the color of my skin. However, you have two choices. You can either succumb to the negativity or you can prove to the person who is judging you that their misconceptions are incorrect. The choice is yours.

As cliché as it sounds, to succeed in life or in a particular profession you have to have a “CAN-DO ATTITUDE.”

If you’re a minority struggling with finding employment, remember that YOU hold the key to your success, not your environment.

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