Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Joys (and Spoils) of Chocolate...at Work

Introducing...black folks' newest (Corporate) American Idol! I know...I am really only kidding!

I am a writer who has invited anyone with a literate and "good" eye to view my observations about going to work every day, a la a different sort of flavor: cocoa. Why cocoa (or chocolate, if you prefer)? Well, we're brown (obviously), but more so because the breadth of black girls in the professional world is far too complicated and unique for narrow classifications only based on their assigned race. After all, just like with cocoa, the variety pack of black career women ranges from bittersweet to white (yes, I said it!), with each morsel carrying her own tastes and flavors, not all of which are suitable for pairing with just any industry, job function, title, company culture or coworker. And, as a fellow Cocoa of 28 years, I know: user discretion is advised.

So what's my story?

Like many career black women (a.k.a. Cocoa Girls), I learned a little late that a college degree was not the only requirement for a successful career. So, after three choppy years of work experience, my neophyte resume began to show that only a career “temp” worker or a 25-to-lifer on the run could rival the brief stretch of time I spent at each location.... Job #1 lasted only three months (no, it was not an internship); job #2 included a sour 16 months that ceased thanks to “unfortunate” declines in the budget, and job #3 faulted after just 18 months, at which time I quit, and still marks my longest stint to date.

Since speed interviewing and corporate musical chairs were never sports that I wished to champion, I embarked on a bit of soul searching beyond Macy’s on 34th Street's fifth floor (and to this day, no one can convince me that it’s possible for a woman to have “too many” pairs of black pumps!). I contemplated my best and worst strategies used to garner success in the workplace and realized that it was up to me to decide where I was failing and, actually, if I even really cared! If I did, well, I knew I had to put on a game face of Extreme Makeover proportions and suit up for one of the longest-running battles known to man -- the 40-plus hour work week. And, if didn’t? I figured my crazy experiences spent working in several cities, corporate cultures and industries could provide - at the very least - an entertaining, memorable and funny account of being black, professional, fabulous and female.

I hope you’ll think so too. Enjoy and God bless!

Yours truly, Rachel Star a.k.a. (my personal flavor) “Chocolate Chip

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