100 Takeaways from Brown, Immigrant, Working Women

“Do the exact opposite of what brown culture taught you”

Being an immigrant in the corporate world has its own unique set of challenges. When you move to a new country, the process of learning and unlearning becomes critical to succeed, whether that is learning a new language or the work culture. Learning and adapting to the work culture is quite exhausting, plus it involves trials and errors where you break your tiny bubble of social stigma. Sometimes, this can be a huge shift too.

If you are a woman of color that fit in the above equation, things only become challenging in the new country and work environment. For example, when I started my career journey in the USA, being comfortable speaking up in meetings is something I struggled with for a long time because, from a young age, I was rewarded to be the quiet one. There are many things I had to unlearn and learn to adapt the new culture after I started working.

Though experiences like mine are spread out, the current digital world makes it easier to connect with people who share similar struggles — it has made the world less isolated. In an effort to learn from other women’s stories, I surveyed 100 women on Instagram and asked them to share one-sentence takeaway from their careers. The responses are absolutely inspiring yet a painful reminder of shared struggles that many face in silence.

In hopes to credit appropriately, Instagram handles of participants are added next to each takeaway.

What is your biggest takeaway as immigrant, brown woman working in the corporate world?

  1. Do the exact opposite of what brown culture taught you, which was to be submissive and not speak up. (___kanza___)
  2. Be unapologetically yourself. I spread all my Indonesian culture across my company. (amaliaclairee)
  3. There is a place for me too. (lil_brit_in_la)
  4. Be you and confident. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. (sahi282)
  5. Become a white golden man be confident and voice yourself. (hanadiu)
  6. Once you made it, don’t forget to send the elevator back down. (coveredandfab)
  7. You are good enough. (shreeawe)
  8. Don’t be too hard on yourself, everyone else is going to be anyways. (swetasundaram)
  9. Work smart! And speak more about your accomplishments. (subreera)
  10. Speak up for what you believe is right and always back yourself with email. (coveredandfab)
  11. The day you will start seeing your diverse background as a strength and not as a weakness or something that you need to fix, that’s when you will start shifting the success dynamics in your favor. Being an immigrant, a person of color and a woman in tech is a live testament of your enriched experience, your persistence, your grit, your creativity, and your ability to navigate challenges successfully and there is nothing more precious than this journey of yours that today’s corporate world can benefit from. (techmakermom)
  12. Do not hesitate to be your own advocate. (chaturvedi2702)
  13. Be yourself. Be confident and proud of your identity. (ahmedfareesa)
  14. Ask for what you want. (jans894)
  15. Talent and Hard work is important. But being obvious is more important. (aparnagkumar)
  16. Be careful of white women pretending to help. (theaishaqadri)
  17. You have to speak up for what you want if you want to be heard. People don’t know what you are thinking. (kamcodewithme)
  18. Speak up and ignore the stares. (simwalk)
  19. Network, network, network. Find your tribe and be vocal. (geekfireflower)
  20. Negotiate your salary. People will shortchange you because you are young and brown. (nikkithenewyorker)
  21. Get what you want. Leave all you learned about being soft from the bown culture. (thefitcoder_)
  22. Don’t let anyone treat you less. Stop being timid. (thefitcoder_)
  23. People will always undermine you, use it as your strength. (vidhip20)
  24. Diversity in the workplaces bring out so much more from everybody. (farah.nisarr)
  25. When your worth is questioned, make sure you don’t doubt yourself. (her_data_world)
  26. You are your own help. (aksh_durai)
  27. Just say it as is. (gurdeepsoi)
  28. No question is too silly. (unaizafaiz)
  29. You have got all it takes. Don’t let your color and gender hold you back. (shireennagdive)
  30. That there are more brown people at the top positions than I imagined. It’s inspiring. (_smritisingh)
  31. Don’t be afraid to say ‘No’ and never shy away from speaking your mind. (thespecsytraveller)
  32. Need to work 10 times better than your male counterparts. (rohmazubair)
  33. Advocate for yourself and speak up. (poornima_j)
  34. Share your perspective. It helps those around you grow and become more open minded. (dharaworld)
  35. No matter what the source and paths are, we all reach the same destinations. (mounika_chillamcherla)
  36. Don’t always expect help from someone who made it to the top. Build your own path. (__ravali_k__)
  37. Speak up, no matter what. (devanshigariba)
  38. Channel your inner old white man. (imandurr)
  39. Develop courage to speak up in class (undergrad) filled with males. (krisha.vekaria)
  40. Not all people give you good advice. (ramsha_jabeen)
  41. Never take no for an answer. Find a different route to your destination. (ruitujarao)
  42. It will get harder before it become easier. (sundaskhaidd)
  43. Be smart and confident always. (precisely_arya)
  44. Advocate for yourself relentlessly; exude confidence like a man. (codewith shreya)
  45. Voice your opinions and remember you are here because you deserve it. (srishtijaju)
  46. You are more than enough. (rujutabiware)
  47. Choose your mentors and allies wisely, not everyone is there to help you. (rujutabiware)
  48. Be comfortable of wearing your culture and your natural hair. (neusacaxicane)
  49. You are one of a kind. Once you I owned my identity, nothing could stop me. (hksinghni)
  50. Speak up. No one is going to award you your due. (swethabez)
  51. You have to stand up for yourself, don’t expect anyone else to do that. (iamkanikamodi)
  52. Identify office politics blocking career progression early. (cuklubnarasheed_)
  53. It’s super challenging to get that first corporate job but once you are in, it’s all worth it. (thisisnikitabhatia)
  54. Don’t settle for less than you deserve. (deepss_001)
  55. Fear of job being taken away by being outspoken and authoritative. (gowri9412)
  56. Listen but be assertive. (rookiewithacookie)
  57. It’s good to be role model but showcase your skills and make that the focus over everything. (a.nxo)
  58. Surround yourself with people who celebrate you and push you be a better version of yourself. (sundaskhaidd)
  59. I wish people complimented my work as much they compliment my ‘unique’ name. (rkabm)
  60. English is my second language and I still struggle to pronounce certain words. I used to be ashamed of this especially in a work setting but not anymore. I realize it’s actually evidence of the fact that I speak multiple languages. (sundaskhalidd)
  61. You have a multilingual, multifaceted and multicultural perspective, never forget that. (anemonearaa)
  62. Take charge. Make yourself seen and heard. (by2kaapii)
  63. I am not an immigrant but I can relate. Don’t fall under pressure. (shiva1303)
  64. Observe, learn and voice up yourself. (that1girl.cyborg)
  65. You are on your own, so learn to make it on your own. (shilpavir)
  66. While conscious bias continues to exist, don’t bring yourself down by your own insecurities. (concious.working.girl)
  67. You are unique, bring that to that table. (muazmazd)
  68. I have been told I need to be more ‘professional.’ The feedback is just BS. (dasani_decoded)
  69. I need to stop doubting myself and be more confident. (aarushirai23)
  70. I need to work harder than a male and non-bipoc counterparts to be seen and heard. (ridhika98)
  71. When I worked in India my team had 50:50 male female ratio until I started working for a US company and found myself to be the only female on the team. (kaysahdillas)
  72. Moving to a new country is hard. You probably are going to miss your family, struggle making friends and adjusting to new work culture, which would make you question everything. Just know that this will not last forever. (sundaskhaidd)
  73. Be confident, be yourself and show your skills. (ecentric.eskimo)
  74. You will work the hardest and still be invisible at times. (rabiaaejaz)
  75. Find your voice and don’t give up. (gunjangoet)
  76. Know that imposter syndrome is normal. Don’t hold yourself back because of it. (sundaskhaidd)
  77. Be as ferocious and choosy about your career as you would be when deciding your life partner. (aayushi.bhattacharya)
  78. Knowing the English language is not enough. One needs to understand the American culture too [to succeed at the workplace]. (sanak.latif)
  79. It takes one job well done, one presentation well made, one article well written that people will want to know who you are and once they do; stand proud, confident and say your name loud and clear, no matter how foreign it sounds, be proud of who you are, color of your skin and where you come from. Stay true to your story. (aishas.786)
  80. Be confident and keep your head high in a room full of men. Even though in brown culture we are taught the opposite. (oneneemster)
  81. Use negative stereotyping in your favor. Let them underestimate and then surprise them. (amberplumber)
  82. You have to have a thick skin. (nkhan0000)
  83. Learning never stops and so does giving. (poetess_shruti)
  84. Be resilient and use the difficult moments in your life as opportunities to grow. (sundaskhalidd)
  85. We have to work 10x harder to prove our worth. But in the end working hard is worth it. (sapna_suitcase)
  86. Be strong. (aigul_ali_)
  87. Just because you are on an H1B doesn’t mean you have to endure a toxic work culture. (odd._.bird)
  88. You need a mentor and a sponsor who advocates for you to find good opportunities. (travelozest)
  89. You have to work 10 times harder. (chictravelwithhina)
  90. I initially had to work much harder than my peers to get promoted. I feel it still holds true. (hksinghni)
  91. You can be so much more than you were told back in your homeland. (desaiparanali24)
  92. Be you. Be proud. They envy what you have. (hksinghni)
  93. Show up and speak up like you normally would. Don’t hush up because you are a ‘foreigner.’ (azkaay)
  94. Stay assertive and confident. (palakg10)
  95. Representation is important. (hebazafar)
  96. It is easy to be hesitant to express your ideas but do it anyway because your voice matters. (hasikaamanhtta)
  97. Accomplishment do not speak for themselves. Get comfortable sharing them out loud. (sundaskhaidd)
  98. Your work ethics are your strongest reference. You doing your job diligently, with integrity, honesty, and persistence will open opportunities for you like no one else can. (techmakermom)
  99. You have to be your own advocate. You have to do this for yourself. (anam503)
  100. There is a false perception that if you are a brown immigrant, a woman from a third world country who puts her head down and works hard you must have a sad story. Our story is not sad — it is a story of resilience, strength, joy, and fun. We cannot wait to share it with everyone. (aishas.786)

Thank you for reading!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this write-up. You words of wisdom will help many young immigrant, brown women starting their careers. If you found this write-up helpful, leave a clap and share it with your friends and network.

I write about data science, diversity & lifestyle | currently at Google | more learning content at sundaskhalid.com

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