As someone who will be entering the professional workplace setting in less than a year, I have started to think about what makes me a unique candidate that stands out. After looking over my resume and listing all of the things that I think are great points that make me a competitive candidate, not once do I ever put down, “I’m Asain.” However, it seems to me that the first thing employers or colleagues see is my skin color.
As someone who is going into a line of work that is predominantly white, I get this comment all the time “oh you’ll get a job no problem since you’ll fill their diversity quota.” I find this comment interesting because as someone who received negative comments about my race throughout my youth, I used to never associate being different as a good thing. Yet now, it seems that my race is the first thing that people see as a good thing when my resume pops up.
More often than not I see the question on applications that state “what makes you diverse?” or “how would you bring diversity to this organization?” In my opinion, I think diversity goes way beyond what you look like. I’d like to base it on my experiences, how I’ve interacted with others and how I adapt to any given environment or situation. The question “what makes you diverse?” should not be answered by a simple one word answer. For someone who is Asian, yet doesn’t truly identify with her own, it’s odd to make that my sole identity.
Interactions I’ve had thus far have been eye opening in the workplace. Not only am I a woman in a high level position, but I also am a woman of color. To anyone on the outside looking in they see me as the poster child of a diverse and inclusive workplace as opposed to the last editor in chief who was a white male. I wonder why this is, we both grew up in the same city and have almost parallel personalities. The only clear difference was our race.
My intercultural communication course I’m taking right now has been teaching me a lot in regards to how to interact with people from other cultures. Language barriers and different social interactions are something we practice in this course. We even go as far as to partner with someone who goes to school in Japan and get to know about their day to day routines. This interaction alone is something that I would say brings diversity to the workplace that has nothing to do with my particular race. At the end of the day, I want to stand out because of the kind of person I am and not what I look like on the outside.
Write to Julia Barton at firstname.lastname@example.org