Have you ever been that Black female who experienced a “Ketanji Brown” moment in the workplace? Well, I have, and here is my story.
In 2018, I was a soon-to-be graduate of the illustrious North Carolina Central University. I had high hopes that I would land the perfect dream job, but as soon as reality settled — I struggled to land a job in my field. Maneuvering through the communications field as a Black woman is not easy.
Many are excited about the celebratory moment of graduating, which is a huge accomplishment; however, many fail to talk about post-grad depression, which is really a thing. Hearing “no” so many times can be discouraging after submitting job applications. Let’s not even talk about the excited family members and friends asking, “What’s next? What job do you have lined up now?” Although they mean well, those questions can put fresh graduates in a dark hole, because I know the feeling of “I don’t know what’s next because I am struggling to find a job.”
It’s sad even to say such because my resume was golden, considering I was a fresh graduate. I put in the work by interning with publications, did on-air news reporting, was President of my National Honor Society, graduated top of my class, held multiple leadership positions within my sorority and so much more. I continued to persist, persevere and pray every day, which helped throughout my job search. That is life, though. There will always be a rough patch after graduation, but it gets so much better once you hear that one “yes.”
You must keep pushing and motivating yourself to put your best foot forward daily. This process made me stronger in the end and allowed me to choose my battles wisely.
By God’s grace, I landed my first job in my field as a Marketing Coordinator. This was an exciting moment until I realized that place was not for me a few months into my role. I had a micro-manager-type supervisor, and it seemed as if she was incompetent in her own job role. A contributing factor to my decision to resign was the company’s lack of support behind POCs during the Black Lives Matter era. I was beyond disgusted by what was said and the approach.
To fast forward a bit, I was blessed to land a new job as a news reporter. This job was great; I loved everyone there. I felt more accepted and able to gain the necessary experience I needed. However, I was not under the best supervisor once the company made changes throughout the year. I learned that my supervisor was threatened by my work based on patterned behavior, which was concerning.
Once I decided to resign, this former supervisor hired a less qualified non-POC in a higher position than my former job role; yet, I hold my Associate, Bachelor’s, and Master’s, and I’m currently taking courses at Harvard. What more can a Black woman do to get the recognition she deserves, right?
I am an advocate for diversity in the workplace. I 1,000% stand behind everyone deserving an equal chance in what they love to do. But I just find it disturbing that Black people, or any person of color, are looked at as incompetent and less than while being compared to white colleagues who are less qualified. I will expand on this more because I know non-POC college dropouts who stepped into higher roles than a POC who was more qualified. This is a perfect example of the underlying discrimination within workplaces these days.
Black people have to work twice as hard to get half the credit and three times as hard to get recognition to be noticed for accomplishments. I have experienced this and seen this happen to my former colleagues that are POCs. It is an atrocious sight. But this is why networking is so important because it also boils down to who you know.
Keep in mind that I am running two businesses while I have experienced all this, and none of my former supervisors had a clue. Young entrepreneurs should always understand that not everyone needs to know their every move. Moving in silence is the key to success, especially in the Black community. Only shifting focus to your target audience is the most important thing to continue to gain momentum. The more you share, the more envious vibes you will run into, and people will try to purposely sabotage. You must surround yourself with the right people.
To pinpoint the PR agency I am building, I do aspects of digital marketing to enhance the aesthetic of many brands, assist in website building, work with celebrities on occasion, represent independent artists and do media outreach. So, when I decided to make the transition to focus on my PR agency entirely, I prepped accordingly. First, I made sure that I had medical and dental under my LLC, and luckily I had just enough money to support me until I found another job.
The moral of the story is to work smarter, not harder, especially if you are a POC. Also, never be afraid to voice your opinion if uncomfortable in any situation. We are looked at as “difficult” or “hard to work with” when we set boundaries or voice our opinion on a troubling matter. Never allow others to steal your joy and to have control of your career, life or finances. Take control and move like the boss you are. Most workplaces need to make more impactful steps toward diversity and inclusivity.
As my sorority sister, Madame VP, says, “Do not let anyone tell you who you are,” because your voice matters. Make it known when you say, “I’m speaking.”