You Don’t Scare Me

Hey joonies,

Sorry we’ve been a little more MIA than usual.  October and November tend to be my busiest months at work than the rest of the year.  I love my job, but it really took me awhile to get there.  It took me time to be able to adjust and get comfortable with people.

Despite being outspoken and blunt, I have a tendency to start out shy with people I don’t know.  My potty mouth is reserved for friends only and the tattoo-ed, women’s rights advocate, and proud Iranian side of me are usually put away when I first start a new job.

My philosophy: you never know how people are going to react – better to start out observing than to be sorry in the end.

Clarification: I will never apologize for who I am.  But in order to be professional, you have to choose what parts of your personality you should highlight in the workplace.

My resume is dominated by my experience in Middle East studies.  In college, I went from one journalism internship to the next.  After college, every professional experience I’ve had is related to Iran or Middle East in general.  In fact, I only moved to D.C. to pursue an internship in Iranian politics.

By graffiti artist A1one in Tehran

When I began to apply for a permanent job – my dad said, “Farrah, you should erase all of your Iran experience from your resume because you will be discriminated against when employers look at your resume.”

My first reaction — Fuck that, I love the experience I’ve had and if some employer is going to discriminate against me for it then I don’t want to work there anyway.

My second reaction — Shit, if I erase all of that from my resume, I’m basically left with my college degree.

So I refused.  I didn’t talk to my dad about the lack of calls I got from the many jobs I applied to.  I didn’t talk to my dad about my struggles with finding a job.  Instead, I lied to my dad about getting another unpaid internship in D.C. focusing on Middle East democracy and told him that I was working temporarily elsewhere.

And when I finally got an interview with the current organization I work for, I didn’t tell my parents until after I had the confirmation email that I got the job.

I learned something valuable from the first interview at my job and my first year there.  My experiences at work have only reaffirmed what I’ve always believed in:

Don’t apologize for your culture or your background.  It’s what sets you apart.  It’s what makes you unique and it gives you an advantage. [Read more…]

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