October 30, 2013

Natural Hair in the Business World- "So are you really going to wear your hair like that?"


Dr. Kimberly Nettles writes:

I will never forget my first time preparing for a pharmacy job interview. "So are you really going to wear your hair like that?", my fellow colleague asked peering into my Afro as if it were a foreign object. I had never given a second thought to the idea if my hair would be "acceptable" to wear to a job fair. I always put more emphasis into making sure my makeup didn't look too bright, my business suit wasn't too tight, or that my heels weren't too high. Professionalism was something I always took pride in, but the concept of how I would style my hair was never a concern.

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On my way home, all I could think about was what was wrong with my hair. My mind flooded with all types of questions ranging from "Should I try to sleek my hair into some type of bun?" to "If I wear my hair out is it going to be a distraction?" Something that I never thought twice about, suddenly consumed every thought that I had.

The day of the interview, I woke up with a new sense of empowerment. I knew I had the qualifications to not only get the job, but excel at it. Therefore, as I starting getting dressed, I removed any negative energy and assured myself that all the talent I needed was already within me. There was no reason to change myself in order to try and fit the mold of what I thought they were looking for. I styled my hair in a big bantu knot out, put my suit on, and walked confidently out the door knowing that I had a blessing waiting to be bestowed upon me in a couple of hours.

Walking into the interview, my big hair went bouncing in the room before I did; and as soon as I approached the gentleman in charge of the company, he greeted me with a firm handshake and inquired "How did you get your hair like that?". I started to explain the regimen of how I twisted my hair into small knots, and I could see by his facial expressions that he was intrigued by the entire process. After about 30 minutes of conversation ranging from hair to professionalism to my strengths and weaknesses, I was finally asked if I would like to work for his district.

Looking back at the that day I laugh. To even begin questioning if my hair would somehow keep me from getting a job that I was confident I would be great at, was ridiculous to say the least. I think sometimes our worries and stresses are the biggest hindrances we can place upon ourselves. All of the unnecessary focus on my natural hair took me to the point where I was willing to change my own personal style, simply because someone else thought that my hair did not look "business world" acceptable. It was a definitely lesson learned.

You should never consider changing yourself to fit a mold or a stereotype. If you aren't accepted by someone or something for who you naturally are, then maybe it simply isn't for you. Always be true to yourself and your abilities. If you have the qualifications to be great at something, then there is nothing on this earth that can possibly stop you from achieving that, including that beautiful natural hair.

What have your experiences been in preparing for job and school interviews? 

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