Permission for professional pivots

The manager to whom I reported when I started my first IT internship had a mortuary science degree. I was shocked, but mostly because I was inexperienced. He was a brilliant manager, he taught me a lot, and last time I checked (four minutes ago on LinkedIn), he was a Director with the same company.

When planning my career as a technologist, I felt like I had to do something involving my IT degree. Even when I left my job and started freelancing, I only considered offering tech-related services. I saw myself as a technologist and didn’t take the time to learn what else was possible. Where else did I have leverage and credibility?

Whenever I speak with younger folks looking for career advice, I affirm them in their interests independent of their professional and academic experience. I’m still figuring out what I want to be when I grow up, and giving myself permission to figure it out for a living has unlocked so much creativity and joy in my life.

I can trace a lot of my professional breakthroughs to the seeds of support planted and watered by mentors I’ve had over the years, and continuing this virtuous cycle for the coming generation feels like a worthwhile use of my time.

Willie Jackson is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant & Facilitator with ReadySet, a boutique consulting firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a frequent writer and speaker on the topics of workplace equity, global diversity, and inclusive leadership. Connect on LinkedIn or get in touch.