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Meet Emma: Data Analyst at CNN

I’m so excited to share Emma with you today! I was connected to Emma through my yoga teacher and I fell in love with her outlook on the world. As a woman in tech she’s had to face a lot of challenges, but she has some great tips that will help any woman in any industry. She is LIVING PROOF that women can make a big difference in any industry and build a life they are proud of.

Be sure to also check out her hilarious and quirky personal blog, The Sloth Goddess. She recently had me contribute and asked the best questions, you can check that out here.

Tell us a little about yourself and your career

I am a San Francisco native obsessed with food and my little cat, Pumpkin! Growing up, I learned French and Russian, as my grandparents immigrated to the states. In college, I further pursued my passion for languages by majoring in Chinese and Japanese. After graduating, I joined a fast-growing SF based startup candy company, where I wore multiple hats and learned how to build a business from the ground up. Over the course of my 3 years there, I surprisingly fell in love with data and analytics.

At the beginning of last year, I moved to Atlanta for a new job in analytics. Though I didn’t know anyone in the ATL, my coworkers welcomed me with open arms, and I ended up meeting my boyfriend shortly thereafter!

Most recently, I launched my personal blog, Sloth Goddess! I’ve always loved painting and writing, and it was finally time to share my own journey to physical and emotional healing, navigating adulthood and having a healthy, realistic relationship with food.

How does your community of women you surround yourself with support you?

“Behind every great woman, there’s another great woman replying to her frantic texts in the middle of the night.”

I love, love, LOVE this quote, because it challenges the assumption that a perfect external image reflects a perfect person. Everyone needs someone they can be “messy” with, and I am forever grateful for the continued support of my parents and friends! I’ve found that showing up honestly, instead of pretending to hold myself together fosters more impactful and long-lasting relationships with the women around me.

In my career, I’ve been fortunate to work with intelligent and passionate mentors, who have helped me make tough decisions, grow professionally, and offer advice along the way.

I believe that the energy you put out into the universe, is what you also receive, which is why it’s so important to surround yourself with encouraging, confident, supportive and empathetic women in both your personal and professional life. I am beyond grateful for the strong, caring and badass women in my life, because they love, encourage and support me unconditionally every step of the way, at all hours of the night!

What challenges have you faced as a woman working at a large corporation and how have you overcome them?

Over the past year, multiple people have said to me, “you don’t seem like someone who would like data.” Before leaving the Silicon Valley bubble, I wasn’t aware that finding a young, enthusiastic woman in such a vibrant and growing field was rare!

One challenge I face almost daily, is an unconscious bias: there is significantly less doubt from leaders when the same data is presented by my male counterparts. Though I enjoy helping others at work, I noticed that less qualified men were getting promoted faster and making more money.

So, instead of gladly helping behind the scenes, I had to think more intentionally about how I was contributing and who knew I was helping (exposure is everything)! Women are oftentimes perceived as selfish if they say “no”, while men can unquestionably pursue their ambitions.

Though I’m disappointed that we still face discrimination in the workplace as women, I choose to work for a large company where I see many women holding leadership positions. I am also actively working to help crush these gender biases in the male-skewed world of developers, data scientists and analytics. I’m part of a data visualization group on campus where anyone who loves data can connect–because we have to keep conversing about and drawing attention to these challenges!

I am hopeful that if women across all industries continue to speak up, we will collectively raise awareness of workplace biases against women, which is the first step to changing the way women are viewed and compensated in the workplace.

What do you wish you could go back and tell your younger self re: your career aspirations?

Embrace uncertainty, lead with your intuition and don’t let fear decide for you!

Before we all find our “thing”, work can feel intimidating and unrewarding. Especially when you’re just starting out–you have no idea what you want to do in 20 years. I remember wanting to choose jobs that I knew I would hate, because I was scared nothing else better would come along.

Start keeping track of all the pros and cons of any job you take. When I took a step back, I quickly realized that I love helping others make impactful, data driven decisions.

Learning to follow my intuition is the most important skill I’ve ever learned, especially when everything feels uncertain. I always tune in whenever I’m making a tough decision, because over and over again, the right opportunities are presented to me at the exact right moment. Have faith that you’re on your right path!

What is your career related mantra?

Understand your own value and control your career destiny fearlessly! Otherwise, as Oprah says, “when you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.”

If you aren’t speaking up about your worth, then who is? Acting as your own self-advocate, especially as a woman, is invaluable to not only your career path, but also your growth trajectory. The moment I begin to feel stagnant at work, I know it’s time to have a conversation with my boss about my growth, or grab coffee with a mentor to map out next steps! I’ve learned to accept that feeling uncomfortable isn’t a bad thing, because craving change is what keeps my career moving forward.

We are usually only “stuck” in a position or industry by the confines of our own comfort levels and confidence in our ability, so the best time to make intentional decisions about your next big thing, is while you still have a job! Part of the reason for starting my personal blog was to do exactly that: explore other career paths. While I continue to learn from successful and talented women around me in the corporate world, I’m able to explore an entirely new path, one blog post at a time.

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