I didn’t know this was possible. I thought, sure, it happens to a rare few — maybe 1% of 1% of 1% — but highly unlikely that it’ll happen to me. I never thought I’d get paid to do something I tremendously enjoyed more than anything I have ever done before.
I didn’t know that I can work sixteen hours a day, seven days a week and not hate my life — much less wake up in the morning. There were some weeks that I only slept four hours a night because I wanted to produce something thoughtful and worthy of other people’s time. Nobody forced me to work like this; I just really wanted to do a good job. Sometimes I feel like I fell short, but every time I’m inspired to get even better at what I do.
I was tasked to train arguably the best (according to a specific criteria) employees of a multi-billion-dollar company. This required me to temporarily locate to a foreign country — a country I’ve never been to, a country so culturally different from mine — and to top it off, I lived there without my family or friends.
To be honest, I was anxious. What if I can’t wake up on time (I have had a medically-diagnosed sleeping disorder in the past)? What if the trainees don’t like me? Because of unconscious bias and being a small non-white girl, what if they’d question my expertise in the field?
I woke up in the morning everyday despite the lack of sleep because I was always looking forward to conducting my training sessions.
I lead training sessions for more than forty employees — ages between 23 and 40 — a mix of senior and junior employees. These employees are within the top 100 of more than 4000 applicants within the company given a selection process based on required prerequisite knowledge in computer science and engineering math.
I’m very lucky! All my trainees — as far as I can tell — were very nice, respectful and hospitable. Despite being a foreigner, they made me feel at home, and that I belonged. Also, they ask really smart questions and are very enthusiastic in learning new things. They are also not afraid to come ask for help. They also give really constructive, and a lot of times very heart-warming!, feedback. Stating the obvious, they inspire me to do my job well, get better at communicating, and be a better person overall.
According to an anonymous independent survey, 100% reported that they perceived me as knowledgable and competent. With or without the survey, I felt that this is also how the trainees felt about me as well. I did not question my competence but before accepting this job I thought that maybe one or two would question my expertise. Despite only five of more than forty trainees were women, I was really happy that my gender never interfered with their perception of my knowledge, expertise, and competence.
A message to all my former trainees:
Congratulations, you have completed the first steps to being an awesome Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Engineer! Thank you so much, I’ve had a wonderful experience away from home; I have looked forward to being in class everyday because of all of you. Everyone in class is so nice and respectful. I really appreciate it that you were not afraid to ask really smart questions, and more importantly, that you laughed at all my really corny jokes. :P
You guys inspire me to become a better communicator everyday. I hope that I’ve provided a fun learning experience for you and that I have motivated you to go above and beyond what is covered in class. I know that with hard work and dedication, you’ll achieve more than you ever thought possible. Thanks for all the love you have given me. Let’s keep in touch, I love all of you! :)