How Vimeo’s 34-Year-Old CEO Mastered The Nonlinear Career Path

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The gifts of the digital age are wildly abundant. We have in our pockets the ability to teach ourselves anything, meet people and build communities across the globe and an endless market for goods and services. This level of access and freedom means you don’t have to follow a traditional career path, but when you are thinking about designing your own, whether right out of college or during a career pivot, this unlimited possibility can be totally overwhelming. It’s the paradox of choice.

“You don’t have to follow a traditional career path. There’s no rule book or playbook for success. Write your own roles. Don’t take people’s paths as the way that you have to do things. You have to do it yourself.”

This is Anjali Sud’s advice for us. And as Vimeo’s CEO at 34, she is undoubtedly the master of the non-linear career. “I did everything from investment banking to being a toy buyer to marketing diapers online to coming to Vimeo to do marketing and finding myself in my dream job now as the CEO.”

But how do you create a strategy for building a non-linear career without a playbook? And, how do you advocate for your work when you’re new to a field or if you have the skills but not the experience? I sat down with Anjali Sud at Collision in New Orleans to learn about her journey to the C-Suite and what she’s learned along the way.

When you started your career, did you see your path as non-linear? How did this shift for you over time?

I wish I had known that careers aren’t linear. When you’re young and in school, you work so hard and there is sort of a linear path. You know? You find a major and you specialize in it, you try to get a job. And then when you get out in the workforce, there can sometimes be this pressure — especially when you look at people around you. I remember, right out of college, I wanted to be an investment banker and I couldn’t get a job at a big bank. I got rejected by every big bank. And so you start to feel like, “If I don’t get the job at Goldman Sachs, I’ll never be able to become an operator and do what I want to do.” When I look back at my career path it was incredibly not linear. I wish I had known that so I wouldn’t stress out so much about not having a perfect path or not getting that job interview. Instead, having the faith that you can affect your career path at any point and realizing that opportunities come from places you could never imagine. I wish I had known that. I think I would have been more chill.

When you realized you wanted to transition from finance into operations, you hit a couple of walls — namely companies who didn’t want to give you a shot without this experience. How did you navigate this and end up as an operator at Amazon?

I met with a bunch of startups in NYC and asked them what skill sets they thought were most transferable between finance and operations. One recommendation I got was to try business development as a good “transition” function. The reason is that business development often requires deal-making skills – something I had picked up in finance – but it also involves a deep operational understanding of the business and its growth strategy. So, I applied for a summer internship at Amazon in business development. I worked my butt off that summer and got a full-time offer to join the business development team, but instead asked to take on an operational role. Because I had gotten my foot in the door and proved myself, Amazon was willing to give me a shot as an operator, first in a merchandising role, and then in marketing.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

7 Things to Know if You’re Applying to a ‘Reach’ Position

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Woman Applying For Job

You spot your dream job, but it’s a reach — a reach beyond the next step in your career. It’s two steps or three steps or 10 steps removed from what your next job should be — and so, you stop just short of applying. But you should apply anyway. Why?

As career coach Hallie Crawford says, “Reaching is a way to grow as a professional and achieve new career goals”. Before you submit your and cover letter, however, there are at least seven things you should know about applying to a “reach” position. These insider tips and tricks will help you stand out from the crowd and score your dream job.

1. You’ll have to battle hiring managers’ assumptions.

It’s all but a fact: “Hiring managers will make assumptions based on your resume and cover letter,” warns millennial career expert Jill Jacinto. So, “It is your job to connect the dots for them before they place your resume in the no pile.” How can you do that? It’s easy, Jacinto promises. “Give them a clear understanding of not only why you are applying for this role but how your current skill set is a complement to the work that you will be doing,” she says.

2. Transferable skills will help you stand out in the right way.

You may not meet all the requirements of your dream job. But rather than focusing on what you’re missing, highlight the skills you have that will help you succeed in any position — and you’ll catch a recruiter’s attention in the best way, says Crawford. “Maybe you don’t have a specific qualification, but you’ve already been using the skills the qualification demands in another way,” she says. “Make those your star stories to show you’re up for the challenge.”

3. Hiring managers want people open to learning new skills.

You may believe it or not, but a willingness to learn what you don’t already know can be just as valuable as already having the knowledge when it comes to applying to a reach position. “Employers know that it will be almost impossible to find someone who can tick off all the boxes on their checklist,” Jacinto explains. “Instead, hiring managers are looking for people who are open to learning new skills.” In your application, “…highlighting the fact that you have been trained in other roles, have used new technology, or gone back to school to excel in a certain area helps show that you would be a good fit,” Jacinto says.

4. Sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know.

Before you apply to a position that’s a couple of steps above your current pay grade, consider setting up an informational interview with someone who already has your dream job. “Find out what else is needed to be successful at that position besides the qualifications you are lacking, such as soft skills,” instructs Crawford, who adds that, “This will help you feel more confident in an interview [as well as help you] to showcase what you do bring to the table.”

5. You can’t avoid the fact this is a reach for you.

As much as you might like to do so, it’s not prudent to sweep the fact you’re “reaching” for this position under the rug. So, “Don’t hope that the hiring manager doesn’t notice that you don’t meet all of the qualifications, especially if they were listed in the job description,” says Crawford. Instead, be proactive and “bring up the fact you are aware that you don’t meet all of the qualifications on paper, but also that you are ready and able to take on the position.”

6. Some hiring managers don’t know what they want — until they meet you.

Don’t count yourself out just because you don’t meet all of the qualifications a job requires, encourages Jacinto. “Hiring managers often do not necessarily know 100% what they want in a candidate until the right one walks into the door,” she points out. So, “Use this as an opportunity to sell your background, skills, connections, enthusiasm, and references during your interview and within your cover letter.” And speaking of having references…

7. References really matter.

What you may lack in experience or previous job titles you can make up for with glowing references. “References are always important, but they’re especially important in this case,” says Crawford. “If a hiring manager is considering you despite your being underqualified, you want to make sure that your references will sing your praises.” Be sure to prepare a list in advance of your application, and don’t forget to reach out to each potential reference to make sure he or she is willing to provide a very positive review of your performance.

This article originally appeared on the Glassdoor.com

How This Mompreneur Turned A Tight Budget And Doubt Into A Successful Cotton Candy Business

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When we no longer fear failure, we often open ourselves up to our best ideas.

For Lucia Rios, the decision to become an entrepreneur was one of survival. Although she had never considered business ownership before, she needed something to do—a creative outlet, a place to funnel her attention as a mother with post-partum depression. So one day, she assessed her small budget like she would any family purchase and started to scheme up potential products. She ultimately decided on cotton candy. It required little overhead, had room for creativity and seemed, at the very least, an exciting change.

Now, a few years later, that side hustle has turned into Rios’ full-time gig, complete with facilities, staff and a long client list. Christened TWISTED, Rios’ business caters some of California’s largest events and partners with brands like USA Network. In this interview, Rios explores the growth of TWISTED, why she’s on a mission to increase Latina visibility in business ownership and the influences of motherhood on her new identity as an entrepreneur.

Jane Claire Hervey: How would you describe who you are and what do you do?

Lucia Rios: I am Lucia Rios-Hernandez, the sweet creator of TWISTED, a gourmet cotton candy company that caters events with live, on-the-spot-twisting, as well as pre-packaged, ready-to-eat treats. I am a mom of two kiddos, a wife, a daughter, a mom-prenuer, a feminist, a person of color and, somedays, Mary Poppins.

Hervey: TWISTED has significantly grown since its launch date. What have been some of your most exciting projects and/or clients over the last few years?

Rios: As corny as it sounds, each and every project and client has been amazing, and I don’t take any order or job for granted. I started this as a way to heal from my post-partum depression, as a way to be a better mother to my daughter and son, so each person that supports this business supports me through this journey. However, I will always—always—cheer on the network called WE ALL GROW LATINA. It was one of my first big events and it changed my life in more ways than one. I was able to get an understanding of what networking meant. I met many amazing women and mothers who have since become my  friends. I was able to get my first corporate client and many others since.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

How Shavone Charles Created Her Dream Job In Tech

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Shavone Charles holds many titles. From being a musician and artist to her role as Head of Global Music and Youth Culture Communications at Instagram and recent founder of a passion project, Magic in Her Melanin, Charles is undoubtedly known to her peers and the surrounding tech and entertainment industries as being a renaissance woman and connoisseur of culture.

The term, “Do It For The Culture”, according to the Urban Dictionary, is a statement requesting that someone carry out a specific action for benefit of their shared culture. Charles is doing just that with not only her work in Silicon Valley but for black creatives globally. With her deep Trinidadian roots, Charles is passionate about maintaining her self-identity while creating an environment of inclusivity for women of color in tech.

Before she was trailblazing a new path for future generations, millennials and black women in tech, or creating her own job title at multi-billion dollar companies like Twitter and Instagram, she was a San Diego native and first-generation college graduate from UC Merced, just trying to figure it out. Upon graduating in 2012, Charles snagged several high-profile entertainment and communications based internships at Google, BET Networks, Capitol Hill and The Department of Justice. Her big break happened when she was the presented with the opportunity to create her own role and title at Twitter.

At Twitter, Shavone established her niche career focus on culture-focused communications and social marketing, business partnerships and data analysis with a close lens on music, online communities and youth culture. Upon joining the Twitter team, Shavone created her own role, as the first person to join her team and head up the company’s global music and culture communications, with a focus on data, often working on efforts tied music partnerships and high-priority product launches and acquisitions (including Vine and Periscope). During her time at Twitter, Shavone also remotely oversaw all of the company’s communications efforts for Brazil and Canada out of San Francisco and employed a number of successful global culture-driven communications programs tied to major entertainment and consumer moments in market (including Rock In Rio, Brazil’s Fashion Week, Juno Awards and more). She led content management and curation for the official @TwitterMusic account and helped grow it by over 5 million followers, as result of social campaigns with talent and highlighting the best uses of Twitter and Vine in music.

In addition to launching PR and social campaigns, Charles had the unique opportunity to create the first-ever employee resource group for African-American employees, aptly named Twitter BlackBirds. Her role at Twitter, catapulted her into a new realm of visibility and influence, leading her to head up communications and culture at Instagram. Charles has always been intrigued by the notion of connecting diverse groups of people through social media and cultivating an accepting community for people to have the choice to share commonalities.

Technology has allowed the culture to be seen on a global scale, with creatives now at the forefront of the movement and art form. It’s not a “niche” community anymore and people are using the internet to build a community around their interests,” which she said at Forbes I.D.E.A Summit.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

How Can You Get Ahead in Your Career?

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Professional Woman

Where would you like to be in one year? In five years? What experiences will help you achieve that? What interests and skills would you like to use in your career? Setting a career goal is about deciding where you want to head in your career and noting the steps needed to reach that point.

How to set goals

A popular acronym can help you write effective goals. Try the SMART system for your career goal.

Specific – Aim for a specific, concrete area for your goal or steps. For example, “make ten job search calls following up on my LinkedIn connections” vs. “make some networking connections.”

Measurable – To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as: How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?

Attainable – Goals are most attainable when steps are thought out clearly and allow enough time. How do you intend to accomplish your goal? Which actions follow on other actions? Is the goal realistic given where you’re starting from? It should be a challenge, but also achievable.

Relevant – A relevant goal is one that really matters to you and to the end result. Is it worthwhile? Is this the right time? Does your goal relate to other efforts or timelines? Does it require resources that are currently available?

Timely – A goal should be grounded within a defined time period, both for clarity and to give your action urgency. When do you want to begin? When do you want to complete each step?

What are examples of typical career goals?

  1. Increase professional knowledge and training. Whether taking a college class, a workshop offered by an employer, or getting a certification, this is a common goal. It can be useful if you are looking for work or are already employed.
  2. Increase earnings. Being underpaid often detracts from motivation and performance. Making changes to earn more increases enthusiasm for most jobs and motivates a job search.
  3. Improve low-functioning work processes or relationships. This goal area can make the daily work experience more positive and rewarding.
  4. Have new experiences. Whether volunteering in your community or at work, joining a professional association to meet new people in your field, or introducing yourself to people you never talk with, new experiences fuel interest in your career.
  5. Attain a leadership role. Many people feel their ultimate goal is to lead in their career or organization. Establishing the steps to achieve a leadership role makes it possible.

Tips to achieve your goal

  • Write down the steps. Write down your career goal and the steps to get there. This will help you remember and achieve each step. Post your list where you will see it often.
  • Set deadlines. Give yourself a date to complete your goals by. Write the date when you actually finish each step.
  • Reward yourself. Taking steps toward goals is hard work. Think of small rewards to give yourself when you complete any step, to help you stay motivated.
  • Have a goal partner. Find someone to help you stick to your plan: a friend, co-worker, a job coach, or someone else. Discuss your goals and check in with them when you complete steps. If possible, do the same for your partner!

Source: careeronestop.org

 

We’re Loving It: Meet The Youngest Black Woman To Own A McDonald’s Franchise

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Jade Colin is making waves in the restaurant franchise business as McDonald’s youngest black woman to own one of the popular fast food eateries.

No doubt an impressive feat, the New Orleans native has been preparing to run her own business for years. In 2010, her parents purchased their first McDonald’s. She began working in her family’s restaurants in 2012, after graduating from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a bachelors in Business Management.

The next step in her journey towards owning her own was joining the Next Generation program. The program helps train children of McDonald’s franchise owners in hopes of one day running their parents’ investments, or franchising a new store themselves. Uniquely, a parent can’t simply pass their franchise down to their kids; they have to go through a process where they’re accepted to take it over, or, like Colin, start their own.

Colin excelled in the program, receiving the Outstanding Restaurant Manager of the Year Award for her region, as well as the Ray Kroc Award, which recognizes the top one percent of restaurant managers in the country.

In 2016, Colin opened her first McDonald’s location, marking her as McDonald’s youngest black franchise owner, at 26 years old.

Now 28, and still McDonald’s youngest black franchise owner, Colin is thinking long term when talking about being black and running your own business. Speaking to The Black Professional, the millennial franchisee said, “As an African American community, we need more men and women to know it’s not just about right now, but it’s about the generations to come.”

Continue onto Blavity to read the complete article.

Stacy Brown-Philpot of TaskRabbit on Being a Black Woman in Silicon Valley

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The Detroit native studied at Penn and Stanford, worked for Goldman and Google, and now runs the gig economy pioneer that Ikea acquired in 2017.

Stacy Brown-Philpot didn’t grow up aspiring to be the chief executive of a technology company. Instead, she wanted to be an accountant.

While interning at an accounting firm in the 1990s, Ms. Brown-Philpot — who was raised by her mother in Detroit — worked for a partner who happened to be African-American. “I was like, ‘OK, there’s a black person who is a partner at this firm. This is something that I can accomplish.’”

But as Ms. Brown-Philpot acquired more experience and education, her ambitions grew, too. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in 1997, did a stint as an accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, then became an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in 1999.

She went back to college to get her graduate degree from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, then in 2003 joined Google, where Sheryl Sandberg became a mentor. At Google, Ms. Brown-Philpot assumed a series of leadership roles and founded the Black Googlers Network, an employee resource group.

After nine years at Google, she joined TaskRabbit — which lets people hire freelancers for odd jobs — as chief operating officer. She became chief executive in 2016, and last year, she sold the company to Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant.

This interview, which was condensed and edited for clarity, was conducted at TaskRabbit headquarters in San Francisco.

Tell me about your upbringing.

I grew up on the West Side of Detroit. My mom raised my brother and me by herself. We didn’t have a lot. My mother worked a job that didn’t pay a whole lot of money, so she had to make a lot of sacrifices. But she prioritized education. She would fall asleep helping us with our homework at night. She always taught us that no one can take your learning away from you. And with that, you can go anywhere and do anything.

So I focused on getting good grades. I wasn’t always a popular kid. I didn’t have the best clothes. But I was a smart kid. It’s cool to be smart in Silicon Valley. It’s not cool to be smart on the West Side of Detroit.

What was your first job?

I had a paper route with my brother. I would help him collect the money. I was like the C.F.O. of that operation, making sure we got paid.

And then you went to Penn.

I had no idea what an Ivy League school was. I was a fish out of water. My high school was 98 percent black. Penn was 6 percent black. So I had to find community. I had to figure out how was I going to succeed in this environment where most people don’t look like me, and don’t come from where I came from.

So where’d you find community?

There was a black college house. I didn’t live there. I would just go over there and spend time just sitting around with people that, you know, ate collard greens and fried chicken, just like I did growing up. It just made it safer for me and more confident for me to walk into a classroom and know I knew the answers and speak up.

Continue onto the New York Times to read the complete article.

Top 5 Highest Paying Government Jobs

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woman job searching online

Government jobs offer stability, reasonably normal hours, many benefits and retirement packages. But, many people don’t realize that it offers are many high-paying jobs. See below for the top 5 jobs that pay a high salary.

1 Astronomer

Astronomy is a relatively small field, with about 6,000 professional astronomers in the United States. With a median annual salary of $108,681 a year, you can find them working for the Army, Air Force, and NASA.

2 Criminal Investigator

The projected growth rate for a criminal investigator is 18 percent. With an average base pay of $92,911 a year, criminal investigators work for the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice and the Army.

3 Microbiologist

Microbiologists earn an average of $87,500 a year, with an estimated increase of about 9 percent, and government agencies will be hiring about 8,000 new employees.  Microbiologists can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Agricultural Research Service, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

4 Chaplain

This field is continuing to grow, and government chaplains earn an average $73,500 a year. You will find chaplains being hired at the Veterans Health Administration, Bureau of Prisons/Federal Prison System, Office Secretary Health and Human Services, and the National Institutes of Health.

5 Correctional Officer

Correctional officers on average make $47, 000 a year. A total of 26,000 new correctional officer jobs are expected to become available by 2020. Most of these are likely to be found at the Bureau of Prisons/Federal Prison System and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Most correctional officer jobs only require a high school diploma, but other employers, such as the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, require at least a bachelor’s degree.

Sources: glassdoor.com, financeandcareer.com, salary.com, federalpay.org

Monster Reveals the Top 10 Jobs and Cities for Finding Work in 2018

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Over the last 99 consecutive months — from March 2010 through May 2018 — employers added more than 19 million jobs, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. But employment isn’t the same everywhere, notes Monster, which analyzed its data and found the top 10 U.S. cities for job seekers, as well as the industries that are hiring most.

For the first half of 2018, New York City ranked number one for job seekers, according to Monster’s data — which differs from another job site’s analysis.

However, following the trend of health care-related jobs being in demand, Monster’s most posted job from January to June 2018 was a registered nurse.

Top 10 cities for finding a job:

According to Monster’s data of which cities had the most job postings, the coasts and large metropolitan areas held promise for those searching for a job in the first half of 2018.

  1. New York City
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Washington, DC
  4. Dallas
  5. Chicago
  6. Boston
  7. Philadelphia
  8. Atlanta
  9. San Francisco
  10. Houston

The Bureau of Labor Statistics looks at data from 388 metropolitan areas, and “eleven of the most populous metropolitan areas are made up of 38 metropolitan divisions, which are essentially separately identifiable employment centers.”

In May of 2018, the agency saw non-farming employment growth in 37 out of 38 metropolitan divisions — including those on Monster’s list. “The largest over-the-year increase in employment among the metropolitan divisions occurred in New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ (+97,900),” according to the BLS, matching Monster’s data.

However, Indeed, a competing job search website, released its list of best cities for job seekers in April of this year and New York was nowhere near the top. In its evaluation of 50 metropolitan areas, Indeed took other factors into account, including salary, job security and advancement, work/life balance, and the city’s labor market. New York ranked 46 out of 50.

Coming in second on Monster’s list, the Southern California division of Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA was ranked third by the BLS, with a year-over-year employment increase of 63,900. The Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas division ranked second with the BLS, with an increase in employment of 90,700. Monster’s data placed Dallas not far off, in fourth place.

Most posted jobs on Monster

Monster analyzed the most-often posted jobs from employers in the first six months of 2018.

  1. Registered nurses
  2. Software developers
  3. Supervisors of retail sales workers
  4. Customer service representatives
  5. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
  6. Computer user support specialists
  7. Sales representatives
  8. Maintenance and repair workers
  9. Retail salespersons
  10. Network and computer systems administrators

The demand for nurses — top on Monster’s list — isn’t entirely surprising. According to the BLS, employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 15% from 2016 to 2026. This is partially due to the aging of the baby boomer generation and the increased need for preventative services.

Continue reading on Fortune.com here

Manufacturing: A High-Paying ‘New Collar’ Career

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Women in Manufacturing

We’ve heard of white collar jobs and blue collar jobs, but “new collar” jobs? There’s a new trend in employment, and it’s in career fields that don’t necessarily require a college degree but require a specific set of highly technical skills.

In manufacturing, there is a tremendous opportunity for new collar workers to be well paid as they fill hundreds of thousands of vacancies. And the time to take advantage of this opportunity is now.

“Today in America, manufacturers need to fill some 364,000 jobs. Over the next 7 to 8 years, we’ll need to fill around 3.5 million, according to a study from Deloitte and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Manufacturing Institute,” says NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “But two million of those jobs could go unfilled because we haven’t upskilled enough workers.”

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty was the first to urge politicians and business leaders to not think in terms of white or blue collar jobs, but to broadly consider these future unfilled positions as “new collar” jobs—jobs that don’t require a traditional 4-year degree but do require a good amount of skill. Manufacturing is a great new collar career choice, and here’s why.

Well paying positions. According to the National Tooling & Machining Association (NTMA), those in a manufacturing-related job in America tend to make an average of $15,000 more per year than other job fields. This extra amount of money alone can pay for rent, a new car, or help to significantly pay off school or other related debts, while still having money left over each year. More money for vacations, or saving to get to retirement faster.

Flexible work environment with a changing technological and social landscape. Machinist jobs are well known to have a casual dress code, which is usually comprised of thick t-shirts, jeans and hoodies, due to the work environments they expose themselves to. There are also lots of young machinists working today who have tattoos, piercings, and an overall unconventional look, which is completely fine with most manufacturing shop floor employers.

There is also the flexibility in being able to bring these skills to any manufacturing shop floor.

With the industry getting younger, it is also easier for people in this job field to not only find their niche community within the realm social media, but for employers to reach new talent via the platforms of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and beyond.

Less time in school after high school, and you can often learn the trade during high school. While there is a serious need of resources for STEM learning (science, tech, engineering and math) for youth these days, there are some resources that can be highlighted as great examples.

For any classroom environment, it is highly recommended that educators check out the video platform called Edge Factor, which has an abundance of resources to let young people discover what they would like about working in this industry. There is also the Cardinal Manufacturing program from the Eleva-Strum School District – it’s a real machine shop high school kids can work in, and that school district also has a very progressive Digital Learning Initiative to keep these kids up to pace with current technology.

The great news is that to get a job in the manufacturing field working at a machine, a college degree is not necessary. Most employers will look for certifications, or may even offer an apprenticeship, to get new talent through the door. To gain certifications, there are online colleges, community colleges, and even vendors who offer these valuable certification learning resources, as well as the program Workshops for Warriors for military veterans.

Source: monster.com; Alliance for American Manufacturing; nam.org

First FedEx African American Woman Pilot Reflects Journey

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FedEx Airbus Captain and Line Check Airman Tahirah Lamont Brown recalls her very first time in the cockpit in 1992—a momentous occasion for any pilot, but especially for an African American woman entering an industry dominated by men.  Brown later became the first African American woman pilot for FedEx, and shares how hard work, creativity, determination and mentors helped her build her “office in the sky.”

FedEx:  When did you decide you wanted to be a pilot, and what about flying intrigued you?

Tahirah: I decided to be a pilot in high school. At that time I had only flown twice in my life, but the more I learned about aviation, the more fascinated I became. I enjoy traveling, meeting new people, and learning about different cultures. Aviation matched my personality. It was an epiphany for me. I decided this is what I want to do, and God put people in my path along the way that helped me achieve my goal.

FedEx:  How did your parents react when you told them about your plans? 

Tahirah: My mother was nervous. My father was supportive, but wasn’t sure I was serious.

FedEx:  As an African American woman in a field dominated by men, did you feel there were barriers to your dream? 

Tahirah: There were barriers, for sure. I didn’t know any pilots and didn’t know how to pay for flight school.

I worked two jobs to pay for college and for flight training. I also wrote my family a letter asking them for support. I promised that if they would help me now, I would pay them back when I had the money, and they helped me.

I met Bill Norwood, the first black pilot at United Airlines, while in Tuskegee, Alabama, at Operation Skyhook and he introduced me to OBAP, the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. That introduction provided me with the guidance I needed, and also helped me with scholarships for flight training.

FedEx: Describe your first flight and how it made you feel.

Tahirah: I still remember it vividly as it was exhilarating. I was twenty years old. My first flight was in a Cessna 172, a four-seat single engine prop plane. My instructor in college was with me, along with my supportive, yet reluctant father in the backseat. We took off out of Long Island and flew to Greenwich, Connecticut. I was on top of the world. I could not believe that my view was the sky.

We flew around as I tried to maintain wing level. I looked back at my dad and he was giving me the thumbs up, but I could tell he was getting a little queasy. I said: “you’re doubting me, right?” When we landed I felt like a child that was taking her first step–like the world had no limits. My father told me this was what I was meant to do. All his doubts were alleviated at that moment and going forward he only asked how he could help me.

Continue onto FedEx to read the complete article.