Graduation is less than one month away, so that means job hunting is on my mind every day. As a digital journalism major I want to make sure I end up in the right work environment where I am valued. Luckily, I met Ijeoma Oluo and she gave me life changing advice.
Don’t make compromises now, because you will only have to keep doing it for the rest of your career if you start by settling.
That was the biggest takeaway from having lunch with Ijeoma Oluo, this year’s Diversity Awards keynote speaker. After phone interviewing her, and promoting the Diversity Awards for weeks, I finally had the chance to meet her face to face!
Let me just start off by saying that she is soft spoken, but the words that come out of her mouth are mighty! While I was sitting around the room with many other students and staff attending from various departments, I got the sense that we all deeply needed to hear what she had to tell us. She spoke on many topics such as what diversity means, her writing career, her experiences in other colleges and empowering academia.
As a digital journalism major, I asked her a burning question that has been lingering in my head for weeks now.
“As a senior I am searching for journalism jobs, and people keep telling me that I can’t be picky because I don’t have much to bring to the table. However, I feel that I am a whole person with a new perspective that can be an asset. Am I wrong for being picky?”
Students and staff around the room mumbled in response to feeling the same way as me. Oluo’s response reassured me that I wasn’t overthinking and this is an issue across many people of color. She told me to BE PICKY, and NOT TO COMPROMISE now while I can still afford it. She said it’s much harder to speak up and leave a job once a person has a mortgage, children and bills. Plus she went on to clarify that setting constant core values now, will help me develop my voice and what I stand for as a journalist.
Key Notes from the Keynote Speaker
- People of color get scrutinized the most in efforts to create diversity and help POC but do it the most.
- White men get praised the most in efforts to create diversity and help POC but do it the least.
- If you can’t tell that the people you work with are different with your eyes closed then the environment isn’t diverse enough.
- Diversity isn’t a coloring book that you shade in with different colors.
- Speak up for what you want, but be consistent