Ok so here is the thing, I am an introvert.
Yes, even as I am typing this to be published on a public website, or even though I have spoken in front of more than 700 people, I am still the biggest introvert.
As ingenieras, there is that big stereotype that engineers are introverts. Sadly, it is mostly true. Most of us might enjoy doing our own thing. Working on our own. Having control of situations or even just simply a private life. But if we want to be successful, we must learn how to navigate a world of extroverts.
What’s they key?
Understanding our preferences, our goals, and what needs to be done to get there.
For example, I prefer minding my own business. Staying low profile, and worrying about my own career. But I also want to grow, I want to help others, and make the world a better place.
However, that requires doing things that I might not enjoy, such as public speaking, creating campaigns, and many other extrovert things that terrify me. But I know that doing those things will cause greater good, and will help me get places. So, I put on my big pants and launched that blog, gave that talk, organized that event. Because at the end, when it is done (and while doing it might have made me terribly uncomfortable) I will feel accomplished. I will be proud of myself. I will be one step closer to my goal.
Imagine if I had given into my fear of public speaking and had never created Latina Engineer. We would be still far from connecting all Latina Engineers around the world.
This is something I am constantly working on. For example, I am part of a group of Latinas in STEM creators. And from time to time, we hold video calls. Well, while I might seem super talkative on my YouTube videos or events that I have hosted, I am still a quiet person at heart. I like to sit back and listen (or watch). So when we have these meetings, which is full of extroverted amazing happy Latinas, I tend to sit in the back quietly listening. Sometimes this makes me feel left out and that I don’t belong or that maybe they don’t like me. But this is just me being the introvert that I am and overthinking everything. People won’t stop and ask you to speak or give your opinion, you have to go out there and join! You have to be your own advocate! So I take these meetings as practice! So when I am in the same situation with a client, a business meeting, an important work meeting, I speak up and join in the conversation instead of keeping everything to myself.
I also wanted to include another example. I am leader. Yes, I know, I am contradicting myself. How can you be an introvert and a leader at the same time? Hear me out. Don’t let anything (any definition or adjective) limit you from who your are. I know I am extremely shy, but I also know the potential I have as a leader, I just have to find a way to combine both things.
So let’s say you are like me, you want to have a leadership or management position but you are shy or not sure how to get there, maybe even scared or feel like you lack the confidence to do so.
You have to throw yourself out there. You have to be uncomfortable to grow. As introverts, we often try to avoid any uncomfortable situation, but we must proceed, even if its in baby steps.
So volunteer to do that presentation. Ask more questions! Practice speaking louder, paused and clearer. Practice confidence or powerful poses. Try things that might embarrass you but that are good (such as giving speeches, or leading a team), maybe somewhere nobody knows you. Do the thing you always wanted to do but were too scared.
Little by little, it will make you grow.
A year ago, I would avoid being alone at all costs. I would avoid places where I had to network. But after running this thing (lol by thing I meant Latina Engineer) I have learned how much I might still hate small talks and first meets, but I know I can do it. I feel comfortable and experienced after how much I have exposed myself through Latina Engineer. This platform I created didn’t wait for me to be comfortable. It just threw me into many things that made me nervous and nerve wracking. But I am glad it did. You do not have to go as fast as me, but one step at a time.
I now find myself (still terrified) but speaking clearer, more confident. Expressing my own opinion (when appropriate). Seeking bigger goals. Executing leadership in projects at work, etc.
This will not change who you are, but it will help you develop the tools you need to keep advancing in the professional world. You will be more confident during an interview. You will develop a stronger image. You will be way better at networking (and this is key to find amazing opportunities). You will not stay quiet at meetings anymore (something that I am still working on)
I invite you to try 1 new thing that might make you uncomfortable today but that can help you grow.
Lastly, thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I hope I was able to help you or inspire you. Thank you for being part of Latina Engineer.