Kemah's Voice

kinda weird. definitely distinct.

Working Your Way

Before work, I’d calculated how much I stood to make during the shift in order to motivate myself to go in. Not do well, but show up. As a person who prefers a fat smile to a fat wallet, I often lacked incentive to work. I soon began to calculate how much paper I’d lose by shaving thirty minutes off of this shift, or not going.

Not sure how much I should value my happiness and concerned that I would never develop a great work ethic, I worked at places that I truly feel were bad for my soul.

TIP: Before applying to an establishment, investigate! Is this location busy? What are the attitudes of management like? What will you actually gain?

Anxious to tell my family I was working and prove I'm not lazy, I rushed into positions at businesses that were usually as desperate as I to get the position filled. Had I investigated, I would’ve known that a lack of financial reward, stimulation and respect had caused those vacancies.

Anti-something, it truly bothers me to use my talent to build up large corporations. In retail, I hate the feeling of pushing someone to use spend money and absolutely despise commission.

I had felt fulfilled in one position prior to 2016, as an administrative assistant at Baylor University, and it was because my supervisor treated me with respect.  Even then, I knew that moving forward I wanted to actually help people, build black wealth and learn something substantial. I wanted more than a paycheck from a job.

Since moving to California, I have worked at three small businesses owned and operated by black women. By using family contacts instead of the Internet, I was able to connect with business owners that actually care about my future.

My godmother, India Holloway, is the owner of India’s Healthy Living Studios in Culver City where I began working as a receptionist two weeks after I landed in LA. Our initial interview was a discussion of her needs/expectations and what I was really in the city to do! She understood that I didn’t spend my whole life dreaming of holistic wellness and being her assistant, but that I still stood to gain something by working with her. There I met several entertainment professionals, including a black female producer who had worked with Oprah for over 18 years, and edited my resume.

After India and I parted ways, due to what we’ll call differences, I reached out to family friends again and found more opportunities. My Nana’s longtime friends George & Joy run a health care business that was founded by George’s late aunt, Ruby. Her business takes full responsibility for the lives of over 30 mentally or developmentally challenged adults. I had my first shift on Christmas Eve, cooking dinner and wrapping gifts for the individuals whose families didn’t care to. I work as a caregiver and spend 48 hours every weekend caring for a woman who needs my help to do everything. From day one, it has been the most humbling work experience of my life.

I was able to secure a second position with Dr. Regina Edmond, an OB/GYN running her own successful practice in West Hollywood. Our interview was again open and honest about her needs/expectations and what I really hoped to gain. I’ll admit that this was an attempt to avoid retail and I had no idea how much I would benefit from working with a soul like Dr. Edmond’s. She is intelligent, personable, encouraging and always herself. Though she has more credentials under her belt and owns the LLC, she respects the opinions of her staff and remains humble. She is also patient and understanding, something invaluable to me as a work-in-progress with punctuality problems.

Not sure if our racial/facial similarities did it, but I was more able to see myself as a leader in these women.  I see them stay after hours and do things outside of their job description. I see them manage the financial and interpersonal aspects of their companies. Being close to them has not only shown me part of what it’ll take for me to Oprah (it’s a verb), but also affirmed my belief that to whom much is given much is required. I’ve learned that great employers don’t require you to lose yourself to work for them, and are willing to build you up as you help build their business.

You definitely owe it to yourself to get more than a paycheck from your employer. You definitely have the power to work your way. By being deliberate about where to apply and being open in interviews, I am gaining more by working for others than I ever have...

However, in the interest of finances and respect for my vision, entrepreneurship is still the plan for ya girl! 😝

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