From a very young age, I watched my mom leave for work in pant suits and understood that I was destined for corporate America. I’ve anxiously awaited my entrance to the workforce, ensuring I checked every box possible as far as learning professional customs, workplace jargon, and making sure the thread “X” was cut on each of my neatly pressed blazers. I took every business course my high school offered, joined DECA, and focused both my studies and free time towards this long-term goal.
I was thrilled to sign on with BETA, excited at the prospect of putting these “hard skills” to use, learning systems and processes to help the nonprofit operate as smoothly as possible. While growing and utilizing this skill set was my priority, this idea of hard-skill development was entirely turned on its head in my first week at BETA.
I was starting my 1:1 meetings with the team, an onboarding must for the close-knit culture, when what I envisioned for my role in the workplace changed entirely. I was blown away by the emphasis the team put on my personal growth, and their willingness to invest themselves in my development after only knowing me for my 1-minute elevator pitch in our team meeting that morning.
The first conversation I had was with our Entrepreneur in Residence, Cihan, and it entirely changed my outlook on my role in the workplace. I had showed up to the meeting and when he asked what I wanted to talk about, I was prepared with my rehearsed answer. I had been practicing for this moment: “I want to learn how I can be an asset to you and the team, Cihan.” I saw him shift. Very smoothly he said “Yes, but you’re not an asset Grace. You are a human being; you should work on being the best human being you can be.” I no longer show up to work (or anything else for that matter) looking to be only an asset but hoping to be the best person I can in all that I do and knowing that is more than enough.
Casey, our Executive Director, took almost an hour out of her busy schedule to talk me through the realness of imposter syndrome in the workplace. She recommended books and support, empowering me to own my knowledge and utilize it to develop as a young professional and human being. Eri, our Marketing Lead, took a chunk out of her day to get to know who I am, and encouraged me to evaluate the world critically and to ensure that everything I do (personally and professionally) is geared towards progress and improvement towards greater good.
With a new ambitious attitude and positive outlook, I jumped into my role headfirst and embraced the independence the role allowed for, while leaning into our Ops Lead Kelly for support. Kelly handed me new goals and projects freely and offered constructive feedback for growth while highlighting my successes along the way. Her efforts to connect and encouraging leadership style created a lasting mentorship and friendship that will extend much beyond a seasonal internship.
While I’ve learned numerous programs and developed hard skills to last a lifetime, working at BETA has provided me with the opportunity to grow as a human being in ways I couldn’t have imagined. My failures have been embraced in the true entrepreneurial fashion that BETA encompasses, I’ve been provided opportunity to empathize and learn in real time, and I’ve been acknowledged and respected far beyond the “coworker” role I’ve grown up hearing about.
My advice to my peers? While professional development is crucial to workplace success, everybody wants to work with the best people we know. Be the best possible human being you can be today, tomorrow, and each day moving forward!