Being a woman of color in the engineering field can present distinct challenges and feelings of isolation. However, with more than 15 years of experience in engineering, I have realized the significance of prioritizing women of color engineers. As the only woman engineer and person of color in a construction environment, I have found that our abilities are on par with our counterparts. The main difference lies in our networking and relationship-building skills.
Breaking Free from Isolation
Many women of color tend to confine themselves within their cubicles, interacting mainly with people who share their gender and race. However, to excel in their careers, it is essential to broaden their focus and engage with individuals from diverse backgrounds. Building relationships based on mutual respect and establishing rapport is paramount. Beyond merely conversing with colleagues, it involves taking a genuine interest in their lives and finding common ground. Some effective ways to connect with people include discussing pets, sports, or even sharing experiences about first cars or jobs.
Learning from True Leaders
During my career, I had the privilege of working with a visionary Vice President who exemplified exceptional leadership. His personalized welcome email showed me that regardless of our position in a project, he valued each team member. This leader took responsibility for any failures and credited the team for success. By observing his behavior, I learned that gender or race should not limit one's professional growth. It is possible to find advocates and support systems among white men who genuinely appreciate talent. The key lies in networking, building a personal brand, and leveraging relationships to establish oneself.
Being a woman of color in the engineering field can present distinct challenges and feelings of isolation. However, with more than 15 years of experience in engineering, I have realized the significance of prioritizing women of color engineers. As an active member in the construction environment, I have found that our abilities are on par with our counterparts. The main difference lies in our networking and relationship-building skills.
The Journey to Entrepreneurship
Society often emphasizes the importance of obtaining a college degree and securing a great job. However, the decision to leave a job and start a business is met with skepticism. The real essence lies in being respected as a professional, where ideas are valued and remuneration matches the effort put in. Unfortunately, opportunities are sometimes withheld because individuals don't fit the image of those in leadership positions. My goal is to inspire other women and people of color to recognize their potential and start their own firms, overcoming the hurdles that lie ahead.
Unlocking Success through Networking
It is crucial to acknowledge that success may require making sacrifices. However, understanding what one is sacrificing and why is essential. Many times, deserving individuals are not adequately recognized or compensated in their current positions. By starting their own businesses, individuals gain control over their work hours, family events, and income. In my personal journey, I realized that my purpose extended beyond personal growth and encompassed empowering others. Building genuine relationships, learning about leadership, and understanding the business side of things can significantly contribute to professional development. Networking becomes especially vital for entrepreneurs, where it's not just about what you know but also who you know.
Seizing Entrepreneurial Opportunities
For women of color in STEM fields considering entrepreneurship, now is the time to invest in building relationships. Regardless of whether one chooses to leave a job voluntarily or is let go, these connections can be leveraged to establish a successful business. Unfortunately, many women fail to recognize the potential of networking in this context. However, I urge all aspiring entrepreneurs to prioritize relationship-building and seize the opportunities it can provide.
As women of color in engineering, it's crucial to recognize the power of networking and building relationships. By breaking free from isolation, establishing rapport with colleagues, and learning from true leaders, we can unlock our full potential. Whether one chooses to pursue entrepreneurship or advance within a company, building a diverse professional network is invaluable. It is through genuine relationships and leveraging connections that we can overcome the challenges we face and create opportunities for ourselves and others. Let's embrace the power of networking and take control of our professional journeys. Together, we can make a significant impact in the engineering industry and beyond.
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