A few months ago, my husband asked if I’d be open to guest lecturing a class of computer science exchange students about what it’s like work in tech in the US. Admittedly, my first reaction was to pass on it and offer up one of my colleagues as a consolation prize. I’m not a shy person, but public speaking isn’t something I’ve done much of; much less speaking as an expert in my field. I was uncomfortable just thinking about it, but that’s how I knew to say yes. After running the idea past my mentors at Binc and gaining their support, I felt confident that it was going to be a great learning opportunity for me.
Part of my initial reluctance to say yes to this opportunity had a lot to do with seeing myself as an “expert” in my field. I had just come off a tough project and was feeling more than humbled by it. What insights could I provide and were they of value to anyone? As I was trying to pull slides together and dump interviewing best practices into a neat little graphic, I felt the waves of self doubt wash over me. What had I gotten myself into?
The day finally arrived and I walked into the classroom really not knowing what to expect. I was nervous that they’d ask questions I didn’t know the answers to. As I was waiting for class to file in, I took a few deep breaths and let go of any expectations I had. I decided to be open to the experience good or bad. As the class began, I felt ready to step up to the challenge I had given myself. I ended up going through my slides within the first 5 minutes and organically, the rest of lecture ended up being more of a conversation between me and 40 other people who were intently listening on what I had to say. It was rewarding because I realized that my perspective had a lot of value even if it didn’t expand over 20 years or whatever. The students and their teachers were all very kind and had thoughtful questions about how to stand out in the applicant pool. I was happy to be able to share information with them that could help them in their future job search.
I’m happy that I didn’t end up passing this experience by just because it would have been easier to let someone else do it. It ended up being a great way to meet new people that I wouldn’t have otherwise and had the added bonus of shaping my professional brand. I’m looking forward to working with the EPITECH students in the future!
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