A part of my job sometimes includes speaking in front of people. Sometimes this is at public hearings, in front of neighbors who never like what I have to say. Sometimes it is in front of just a few people at government meetings.
Sometimes neighbors will get up and basically call you an idiot for what you said. And sometimes the government officials you are speaking to will call you an idiot.
For both scenarios, you don't really get to defend yourself. You have to just sit there, nod your head, and take it.
I hate that.
Like public speaking isn't hard enough, I think it is even harder when you know you are going to get swung at.
At that's not figurative. The police have been called to a public hearing I was a part of before.
One of my biggest challenges as a young engineer is proving my knowledge in a room of older engineers. My age definitely works against me. And the worst thing I think I could do when I am being hit with rude comments and misinformation is get worked up or let my frustration show.
Meetings aren't the only place my age plays against me.
I am the youngest person at my company. By at least 7 years. Some of our employees have been working there for over 20 years. Literally, I was 4 when one of them started working for my dad. They have seen me grow up. I worked there answering phones a couple of summers. I did all of my internships there. They have seen me at my not-so-finest, when I didn't quite have the most professional behavior. It is really hard to undo all of that history and I struggle a little with how to go from answering phones to being a leader within ten years.
Which is why I am so glad I am going to be participating in a Leader Development Series for the next 8 months. It's 2 hours a day, one day a month, for the next 8 months. Each month is a different topic, from public speaking, to effectively running a meeting, to finding balance and time management.
When I spoke to one of the organizer's for the series, he told me to be prepared to be uncomfortable and to be ready to push myself.
Thanks for the warning I guess.
But in all honesty, I am ready.
It's not going to be easy for me. I mean, engineers aren't known for being the most outgoing. But I am committed to getting the most out of the series as possible.
The organizer also told me to prepare to be "more awesomer".
A part of me feels like I am starting to hit my stride a little bit at work. I still have so much to learn and so many ways to improve. But my confidence is starting to grow and grow. And I am ready to develop my professional skills outside of the technical spectrum.
So wish me luck! I'm not exactly sure what will be involved at our first meeting today. Maybe we will be doing trust falls or something.