My new role as Program Director and why STEM is important for girls.

Hey guys! Coming at you with a new blog post. This one hits near and dear to my heart. For the past month, I have been working with INTech Camps for Girls. A technology camp for middle school and high school girls in Charlotte, North Carolina. An organization like INTech is exactly what Charlotte needs to grow the existing technology talent brewing in this city.

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Ever since I moved, I made it a personal goal of mine to get involved with the existing women in tech community. Through technology and social media I’ve had the chance to meet so many incredible and inspiring women who I aspire to be like. One of those people is my fearless leader, Khalia Braswell, the Founder of INTech. Her story is so inspiring to me and I honestly fangirled so hard when I got the opportunity. She brought me on to launch the high school program to offer a new wave of scholars the opportunity to gain more experience in technology.

Because of organizations like INTech, my technology journey started. Had I not had people that kind of looked liked me and were empowered by STEM, I might have picked another career path. I am so thankful my passion for problem solving and storytelling persisted because I can’t imagine being in any other industry.  There is no reason why more girls at a young age, especially in middle school and high school, shouldn’t have access to technology tools to get them immersed in this creative, digital world. Girls in technology offer unique solutions to the problems today. By including minorities and marginalized communities in the conversation, you empower different ways to think about the world we live in.  These different perspectives can yield diverse solutions. Growing up I never really saw Persian or minority women in STEM.  We need more girls who code. We need this next generation of engineers to feel like they can be themselves and there isn’t one path to be successful. To have a platform where I can express my extroverted, colorful personality in the technology field is my way of showing people that tech isn’t one color nor one gender. It’s colorful and vibrant and creative.

To be honest, this is a new role for me and is completely out of my comfort zone. I’ve never really had a position of authority but seeing how Khalia and her peers move and interact helps my confidence because I see someone actually does this and loves it. The non-profit sector is a challenge but it can be very rewarding too. Being in this position over the past month has pushed me out of my comfort zone in ways I didn’t think was possible and when the work becomes grueling I remind myself of the impact we hope to make.

I am excited for what the future holds. Hearing the girls say “I want to go into technology” or “I want to go into web design” makes me so happy because this is the future being formed. TKBRANDING-03 (1)

What I’ve Learned From The Last 6 Months

The first 6 months and your next 6 months will not be the same. We are now in July which means we are in the second half of 2018 so you will face a new series of challenges, blessings, and obstacles that will look different.  You choose to have that difference be a “good different” or “a bad different”. Only you have the power to do that. One of the best feelings is when you realize how much power you have in your own life to do the things you want to do.

I usually do a “What I’ve Learned From: [Month]” but considering now that we are halfway through the year I wanted to take the time to reflect on the first half of 2018. I hope you all can learn from some of the things I have learned these past few months.

I knew 2018 was going to be a hard year but I’ve grown so much because of it. Last year had nothing on the growth I’ve had in the past 6 months alone. Not all of that growth has been good. There have been dark times and a lot of nights where I kept asking “Why?”. I know this year was hard for a lot of people and I’m in awe how some people can handle the things life throws at them. I’m truly inspired by that. I love seeing the good in people come out in times of adversity. I saw that within myself too.

I told myself that 2018 was going to be a selfish year for me. I’m turning 21 in a couple of weeks and I also launched my brand + platform on January 17 of this year. 1/17/2018. I’ve seen myself grow throughout my platform in so many ways and I think my platform is a really good representation of where my headspace is at. It hasn’t been in the most positive places and due to some traumatic experiences, I found myself desperately needing myself more and more. I couldn’t rely on anyone else to save me. I was in a really toxic place. I struggled with an eating disorder which had severe impacts on my overall health. I wasn’t healthy at the time but I have come a long way since. My relationship with food is steadily improving because I stopped punishing myself for things that had nothing to do with me to begin with.

Learning how to take care of myself

I’ve learned what taking care of yourself looks like and how valuable peace, energy, and light is in my life. I spend a lot of my time focusing on my own peace and protecting that because I’ve seen myself in a place where I wasn’t doing that. I wasn’t giving myself the love and energy I was giving other people. I think it’s easy to look outwards for happiness, love, and validation but when I catch myself doing that I always ask myself “Am I providing that for myself first?”. That behavior is something I’ve practiced over time.

A lot of the self-love and me taking care of myself was new to me so I didn’t what it looked like. I had to make the conscious choice to take care of myself every single day.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned this year, so far, is you have to take care of yourself before you do anything. I wasn’t a good friend, a good partner, a good energy to those I cared about because I didn’t know how to properly take care of myself mentally, physically, and emotionally. It really affected a lot of my relationships around me and my health too.

You don’t really ever get taught to do that. I don’t we teach how to take care of yourself in a way that’s deeper than the surface level things like face masks, relaxing, etc. We focus so much on being stable financially and in our careers but never take a step back to look at the person who has to go through this. In order to go through anything, you have to be okay with yourself first. Before I hated to be alone and now I value my independence so much more because I know that only I can offer that peace of mind in life.

The Newness

The first 6 months of this year have been some of my darkest days and a lot of new transitions. I’m learning that your early 20s are some of the hardest times because you are in between being a real adult and still being a teenager. There are so many firsts that happen to a lot of us during this time that can be overwhelming. Your first move, your first real job, your first big heartbreak, the first bill you have to start paying. Whatever it is, it’s new for us. But the new isn’t impossible, it’s just unfamiliar which can be scary. It was for me. I’ve learned that once things become more of a practice they do become a lot easier. It takes time but it’s a valuable time of learning.

Moving to a new city by myself was a lot more lonely than I ever anticipated. I am also in a new role in a completely different company. I’ve been sharing my internship help guide for all of you to benefit from it and go through this together.

What I’ve done to help myself with the newness is to take a step back, look at it for what it is, and be grateful for it all. I think about how lucky I am to have these opportunities to do what I am empowered to do. Even when I am overwhelmed, I thank God for everything because I know that He is shaping me to be the woman I am supposed to be. So of course, it’s going to be a little difficult.

Relationships

Let’s get a little personal… If you have been reading my content for awhile, you know that one of the last relationships I was in wasn’t very healthy.  I fell into an awful mental cycle that I have since pulled myself out of. I wasn’t taking care of myself.

There are things that I still battle daily to overcome it but you can’t rush the healing process. I am also a very forgiving person so despite what’s happened I chose to forgive and move past what happened. I didn’t want to carry any animosity with me because it would have bled into other aspects of my life. I do still love this person and will continue to have love for this person despite how much it affected me.

With other relationships, I’ve realized that sometimes taking the time to work on yourself before you can even commit to anyone else. It’s a working progress and something I try to be mindful of every single day. This goes back to being honest with yourself in order to find peace in what you do and who you want to do it with. Take accountability when you mess up, if you want something just go do it, and don’t take any of the growing process for granted.

I’ve also given myself the permission to take time away from certain circumstances. I need to keep everything and everyone at an arm’s length before I welcome them back into my circle or space. Everyone you meet comes with their own energy, their own conditioning, and I think it’s perfectly okay to say “Hey, I don’t want to have this in my life right now while I learn to figure some things out on my own”. You need to communicate that to those around you if you need the space to process the chaos in your world. I think it’s perfectly healthy to do that. The people around you will want to help and support you but somethings you need to digest at your own pace. They may not understand but if you need to do it for yourself, they’ll have to accept it.

My Brand Baby

I love talking about this because this is a place where I can really be myself. My brand, my platform, my social media is really important to me. Some people may think it’s superficial or may not be sustainable however I feel like I am being called to share my stories with you all. The whole development of building a brand is so much more than people think. You are your own boss so you have to keep yourself accountable and motivated to do whatever it is. Whether it be creating social media templates or reaching out to brands, you have to stay on it. I get to create things that reflect me in a way that engages people. I don’t need 1000 followers who don’t engage with my content. I’d much rather have a few who are really listening to offer feedback and show support. I love hearing from you guys and talking to you all.

I’d like to think that my brand has been successful in the past 6 months since it’s conception. I started it because I wanted to express myself to people who felt like no one was listening to them. I get to be myself: authentically and organically. ALSO, it’s a creative outlet for me. There is so much that goes into social media behind just posting. Now, there is a new social media industry that wasn’t there before. There are so many jobs that got created because bloggers and influencers took a leap of faith to share their thoughts with the world. This industry may seem competitive but I don’t really believe in that word. I think there is so much out there already that people can connect to and just because you connect with one person doesn’t mean you don’t connect with other people. It’s created a community of creators who want to support one another. I know there are some snakes out there but so far, I’ve met some of the most incredible girl bosses because of my platform.

It’s something that I have worked a lot on and put a lot of energy into so I protect it like it’s my own. You all will see a new face of my brand very soon and I am so excited. I get to evolve with Is Anyone Really Listening? Again, this speaks back to the self-power.

Intern Help Guide Week 4 🤷🏽‍♀️ Is a “work life balance” achievable?

If you are new to my platform, HI welcome! You are reading the 3rd post of a series I’ve created for anyone navigating a first job or an internship. The tips provided are from my experience as an intern for various companies throughout the past few years. Specifically in the business + technology industry.

They are intended to help you and support you wherever you are in your career. Thank you so much to all of you for showing me support with this.

Okay, let’s get started…

Something I know a lot of new hires or interns don’t talk about is the work-life shift you go through when starting a new role. You may not be used to the long hour days or some of the sleepless nights. If you’re entering the workforce as a college student, it can be a challenge to adjust to a new environment. By week four you will have a better grasp of what type of schedule works best for you but it can seem a little repetitive. Trust me it’s okay if you feel a little bored of it.

You wake up, get ready, go to work, maybe do a workout, come home, make dinner, have a few hours to yourself, and go to sleep. Now older people may look at this and think “yeah welcome to the real world” but I kind of want to challenge that. Not everyone’s life’s goal is to live that kind of life. Try to remember when you were new to this.

Managing a different type of work pressure and your own life can be a huge adjustment for people. I know for me and other interns it has been. No matter what role I have played in my internships, adjusting to the monotony and fatigue was a process.

Work in itself, regardless of what you do, is really gratifying. Your internship is a huge dopamine rush of gratification to your brain. You’re doing things that are making an impact in the company and you have to learn to disconnect from work and your personal life. Your work cannot be your happiness. It can be really easy to blindly fall into this trap of having work be your only source of happiness. Remember you’re a person beyond the work environment. You spent 40 + hours in your week at work which is a lot of time and sometimes even more than you see your own family or friends.

In your internship, you will experience some work pressure that you’re unfamiliar with. That’s perfectly normal. So many people entering the workforce experience this or even being in the workforce. These are things no one really tells you about working in the real world.

As a student, you have a lot of free time that isn’t as available when you’re working. This is a culture shock for a lot of people and that’s okay. I’ve experienced this in various ways. It’s taken me 3 weeks to get comfortable with a sleeping schedule and a routine that works for me.

Here’s what I’ve learned to do to ease some of the pressure.

Let me know what things you do that I haven’t shared!

  • Unplug: Allow yourself to disconnect from the office when you’re not supposed to be working. I don’t check emails after 5 pm. Once I’m home, I’m home. I like to keep my work life and my personal life separate. I will admit, I do think about the work and carry some of that with me but I try to be present in the time that I have for myself.
  • Figuring out what brings you peace + gratification outside of work. Make sure you spend time, even if it’s just an hour, with yourself doing something you love to do. For me, I love spending time creating content on my platform or on social media. It’s a creative outlet for me to be present with my time and really do something I love to do.
  • Talking to your mentors and managers at work to let them know that you’re adjusting to this new routine. You should be able to be honest to them and let them know that you might be struggling but are looking for ways to find a balance. If work is getting too overwhelming, it’s okay to focus on your immediate tasks and say no to things. It’s okay to let your manager know if your work load is overwhelming. Communicating some of your challenges throughout your internship is a way for them to offer insight as to how they do it. It’s a great topic to talk about in your bi-weekly 1:1s!
  • Giving yourself the permission to make plans with your friends and your family so you’re not so consumed with work. Make time for those people. Sometimes I have a hard time keeping contact with my friends or family when I’m super busy because I’m consumed with creating content or busy with work. They can help put things back into perspective and will anchor you.
  • Making plans that you’re looking forward to. Whether it be something you do after work or on the weekend. It’s okay to enjoy your time outside of your internship. You’re supposed to. Connect with other interns near you or in your program to go on fun adventures. That’ll help bring you back to reality.
  • Leaning in on that support system of yours. Whenever I don’t want to think about anything work related, I have my friends tell me all about their lives and their world to distract me. I make it about them to get my mind off some of the chaos. If you do want to talk to them about a work problem, they may not understand right away because they don’t work the way you do. That’s okay! Confiding in your support system is going to help you stay grounded in who you are and it’s going to ease some of that pressure.
  • As cliche as this sounds but doing something active helps relieve a lot of pressure. You can channel the stress from work into something that makes you feel good. Even walking outside for lunch will brighten up your energy levels. I think we put way too much pressure on ourselves as interns to do the best. It’s great to be perfectionists but you need to find a way to get release that energy.
  • Remember that it’s only 10 or 12 weeks and things do get easier. They’ll be bouts of your internship where you will have a lot to do and other weeks you won’t be as busy. Business is a cycle. You’ll find your balance and your routine. Also so many people go through this. Find solace knowing that you’re not alone in figuring this out.
  • Make yourself a priority. Do at least 3 things for yourself everyday that help you unwind and destress. You need to take care of yourself and it’s so easy to forget and focus on other things but be mindful of what you need to be successful.

In your internship you’re going to meet a lot of other interns who are going through the same thing. You guys grow closer because you’re going through the same experience together. Keep those connections close because when you’re overwhelmed or just need to talk about work they are going to be a huge help.

You should be mindful of how you are treating yourself outside of the workspace.

If you’re reading this and you’re not an intern or never had an internship, do not let this scare you. People create their own “balance” in their own way. Some people have a harder time adjusting and some people adjust really easily. It just depends but it’s good to know that this is something that comes along with an internship too because you’re learning in an applicative setting. I don’t want to intimidate anyone from having an internship because it’s hands down one of the best learning experiences I’ve had. I’ve learned more from my internships than I have in my years in school.

I’ve had a few insightful conversations from people who have been in the industry for 20+ years or people who are just entering it (like myself) and they all have similar experiences. You are going to find what works for you. Remember to take care of your mental health and your physical health before you consider work or school or anything.

Hoping this was helpful. I’m working on some amazing stuff for you guys, I can’t wait to share to all of you really listening ✨

Steminist: More than Just A Movement.

By definition, a steminist is an advocate for increasing the presence of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. A word that is to define this existing movement of women who have been on the frontiers of innovative change that inspires the world we live in. These women are our mothers, friends, daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends, and beyond. This isn’t a role or a fancy name. It’s efforts of progression in a more connected, global world.

I am beyond proud to be on the campaign started by Girl Boss herself, Naomi Thomas. Naomi has been more than a mentor to me. I met her my freshman year of UNCG and since then she has been nothing but a inspiration, role model, and friend to me. I look at Naomi as the future of women leaders who lead with their passion and hard work. She’s not only an inspiring person, she is also a kind-hearted woman who values the empowerment of people in her network and beyond.

This campaign is more than just a set of pictures and t-shirts. It’s been the heartbeat behind every project, line of code, and data that I have been a part of. Being a woman in technology is no easy feat and as I begin my career of using data as a form of storytelling I am motivated by the people I am able to call my friends and also be able to look up to. How cool is that? Having people that inspire you to be who you are but are also down to get brunch every once in awhile.

Steminist is more than a movement. It’s the collection of all people who are encouraging the fearless women in their lives to be better in their respected disciplines. I am so honored to be showcased alongside these other incredible, badass, strong women.

This platform that I have founded and sought refuge in, is more to me than just a collection of my stories. It’s a stage where I can evoke change, inspire others, and bring together people who are multifaceted in their own right. If you’re reading this and you’re listening, understand that whatever it is you are called to do. Do it. Lead with your heart and the best intentions and all of the good that you are seeking will be revealed right inside of you. If you’re lucky like me, you’ll also attract people who will see it too. This is more than a platform. This more than a movement.

I know that some people may look at this and roll their eyes but imagine what it would do if you opened your mind and heart the possibility of inspiring the young girls who want to be the next Elon Musk. Imagine giving the kids the ability to create with technology. I think there would be a lot more good in this world.

If you use my link to purchase, 30% of the profits will be donated to Girls In Tech . One of the many organizations that inspire the next generation of women in technology leaders through education, engagement, and empowerment.

Motivation Monday: Finding Your Support System

I am so happy to introduce a new section on my blog for my friends, fellow bloggers, or influencers to showcase their craft on my platform. When I first launched in January I wanted to focus my attention to creating a space that everyone felt heard as well as collaborating with other people that I look up to. I firmly believe that collaboration is so much better competition.

Kenya Smith is one of the first people I thought of when I was thinking about starting this. She is one of the most inspirational and motivational people I know and I am so happy to feature her on my page!

For more information on her and what she does please follow her on social media!

Happy Monday!!!

-T.

unnamed (3).jpgWritten By: Kenya Smith
https://www.instagram.com/girlwiththeplaybook/

“Characteristics of a Support System:
– Stick through hard times
– Being motivational
– Help in any way shape or form
– Honesty/Transparency
Surprisingly, a lot of people in the world go through life without any kind of support system. To help them through school, finding their career or passion, getting through emotional situations, people without a support system go through these situations alone. I could never imagine going through the things I’ve been through in this life without my supportive groups. Because like my great-grandmother always said, ” It takes a village to raise a child”. And with every new thing I encounter in my life, I am put back into child form just to maneuver my way through. 
So for my people that have a strong support system, treasure them all because God has placed them in your life for a reason. And for the others reading this that feel alone, open yourself up. Ask the Lord for guidance to find the surrounding circle that’s best for you. And remain patient, because you don’t want just anyone within your support collective. Allow people in, that have similar outlooks on your goals, or are just willing to invest their time and energy into your advancement.
For those who feel like they can do it all alone. And have someone trying to come in and help. Let that person in just once, and see the blessings that come into your life. All I know is Jesus was God’s right hand, Oprah makes life decisions based on the honesty of her best friend Gail, and Mary Kate is not said with Ashley Olsen. I’m sure that things can be done individually but with multiple heads together greatness happens.
You can change the world by yourself, but its way more fun to have the people who helped you to the top surrounding you when you reach that goal. Support systems are needed.”
Thank you for listening and thank you to Kenya for being apart of this!