Autor: Dr. Shawntia Key
My first professional job in the States was at a university. I recently turned 25 years old, and I was in that special transition period of “fresh out of college” to “professional functioning adult.” I had no idea about The Game.
The Game is exhausting. Unfair. Annoying. But The Game is educational.
The Game teaches you the importance of having “receipts” (meaning, have proof and save those emails!), having allies across departments, building an inventory of favors, and the importance of mentors.
In my first professional job, I had amazing strong female mentors. My mentors taught me how to conduct myself as a Black professional and how to have a voice in challenging situations. These were valuable skills needed to be successful in The Game.
My mentors taught me to listen. Listening allowed me to learn about people’s habits and mannerisms. How are people communicating in the work space?
My mentors taught me to challenge bad attitudes. I had a conflict with someone who rudely dismissed and tossed papers at me when I needed them to answer some questions. Frustrated, I went to my mentor, who taught me how to force people to reflect on their actions while articulating my preferred communication style.
My mentors taught me the importance of attending after-hour gatherings. I was on a group project with a work nemesis. Mid-project, my nemesis had a party and invited everyone. Her invitation to me was a formality, and there were no real expectations for me to attend. After telling my mentors about the invitation, they thought it would be more impactful to attend and to show I was a team player. After-hour gatherings were the perfect opportunity to learn who were allies, hear the gossip across departments, and to network. In the end, I attended the party and the look of surprise on my nemesis’ face made it worth it! Checkmate!
I was lucky to have strong Black role models when I started my career. My mentors “keeping it real” advice and occasional tough love were skills I needed to grow professionals and skills I teach others.
Don’t have a mentor? The Black International Educator will always have your back! Comment below with questions or share the professional advice you learned throughout your career!
~Dr. Key, CEO & Founder of URep Abroad