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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

How to Set Yourself Apart in the Tech Space

Recently on the Being Brown at Work podcast, I had the pleasure to interview Brianna McCullough. She's an infrastructure program manager at Google, and she also has her own lifestyle empowerment brand, Bri Limitless. I had a great conversation with Brianna about how we can set ourselves apart in the workplace, and I hope you'll check out the podcast for the full episode.

Tech is competitive, and for my fellow Brown girls working in the industry, it can be tough out here. The work is demanding and the hours are long, but if you're like me, it's a fantastic field that has dynamic energy. We want to stick around here, but how do we stand out in the crowd?

Getting ahead in tech requires grit, stamina, and a little something extra. I asked Brianna McCullough how she sets herself apart in the tech space, and these were her key tips.

Be curious.

Curiosity is a powerful force and a huge asset in business. Following a hunch, chasing down the answer to a question, and following what delights and interests you shows a spirit of interest and engagement. Not only that, but it can transform your career!

Brianna shared a story about how she was originally studying medicine. She'd gotten into a prestigious internship studying pancreatic cancer, but she found herself more interested in an emerging tool that was being used to combat the cancer, not the medical aspect itself. She came back from her internship and changed her major to computer science. The technology was more interesting to her, so she decided to pivot her career. If she hadn’t poked around and asked questions about the technology, she might never have become an engineer.

Know the difference between "hard" and "uninteresting."

As a working engineer at Google and an MBA candidate, Brianna knows a lot about hard work and hustle. Working while pursuing a graduate degree at the same time would be difficult for anyone, but when she feels tired, she asks herself: am I pulling away from this because it's hard, or because I'm not interested?

If it's just hard, that's one thing, but if your tiredness is caused by disinterest, it might be time to ramp up your tenacity, or to consider a change of field. Use your feelings to inform your decisions, but make sure you understand them first.

Give up on perfect.

So often, Black and Brown women don't raise their hands until they feel 200% certain that they know the right answer. But the truth is that no one is all the way ready. Sometimes, we have to take a leap! Luckily, for those of us working in tech, taking a leap is a productive thing to do. The work is often defined by making choices, trying new techniques, and (sometimes) breaking things. It's never going to be perfect. You have to raise your hand anyway.

If you want guidance in shaping the next move in your career, I may be able to help. Click here to throw something on my calendar, and let’s connect. You might like my free guide: Workplace Confidence for Black and Brown Women. It’s a hands-on guide for how to act when you’re the only woman of color in the room, and it’s totally free.

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