IRTS Fellow to Fellow: It Takes a Village

By #Ask-GenZ Archives
Cover image for  article: IRTS Fellow to Fellow: It Takes a Village

We all spend our entire lives learning from each other. Through observation we learn what works and what doesn't. We learn behaviors and figures of speech. We learn from our successes and those of others. We learn from mistakes. When surrounded by people of different backgrounds we learn new ways of thinking.

I have found that the learning process in the professional world is no different. IRTS Summer Fellows meet with every position in the industry from CEOs to entrance-level employees. Each will tell you that learning on the job is a part of the process. No matter how prepared you think you are there is always something to be learned, and the learning process is a two-way street. Just as you learn from your company, they also learn from you. Because of this, it is beneficial to find a place of work that encourages and shows diversity in perspective. Go where you are appreciated rather than tolerated.

The word diversity has been a reoccurring guest throughout the summer. It is heavily emphasized in both my fellowship and internship. On both fronts it is being instilled that diversifying the industry is valuable. But knowing the value of your presence is only one part of the equation. The company you work for must also see your value and provide you with an environment in which to succeed. This environment should look like properly addressing people and understanding the significance of inclusivity with projects.

Though it seems like an easy concept to grasp, many companies are still getting it wrong. Actively engaging in the mission to increase diversity is an ongoing process. It is more than hiring a member of the BIPOC or LGBTQ+ communities. People want to feel supported in their job. Support isn't just with words but actions. Companies need to show that they value the perspective of their employees by acknowledging what they bring to the table. When you get into your career or internship, challenge your company to self-reflect. What are the actions behind their words? What resources are they supplying so that you feel valued? They may need you to guide them in their efforts but that's okay if they are taking the initiative to learn.

With all the knowledge you will gain and connections you will form, this program will be a steppingstone to your success. It is often said that the road to success is lonely, but it doesn't have to be. And with this program, it won't be. This experience has taught me that in every aspect of life you'll need a mentor, a friend, or someone in your corner. Surrounding yourself with a support system that will push you to do your best but also give you a reality check when you get out of line is beneficial to staying grounded.

It takes a village to implement change, to teach each other, to advance diversity. This fellowship gives you your village.

When it's your turn to enter the industry embrace it. Ask yourself what your goal is for the program. And remember the 4 Be's:

Be useful: See how you can lighten the load for those around you. If you have time on your hands, ask someone how you can be of service. Not only does this show initiative but it shows that you are ready for and capable of more responsibility.

Be visible:Put yourself in a position to be seen and heard. Whether that is asking questions, volunteering for projects, or engaging in conversations with your coworkers.

Be teachable: It is okay not to know everything about your field of work. Your company will teach you what you need to know. Learn what you see people are doing well and take note of what people can do differently.

Be consistent: From the quality of work to showing up on time, consistency is key to building trust in your abilities.

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