As I sat down to learn more about Rayna Anderson’s role as Career Coach at Auburn University, it became apparently clear that this mover and shaker has no reservations about drawing in a crowd.
Without a doubt, her confident poise and proper posture, along with a strong, steady tone, immediately command your attention. But no honest person can deny that Rayna’s tall natural coils make a standout statement of their own with tapered edges that scream, “I’m my own woman.”
Whether helping students navigate family pressure, sexual orientation, or personal expectations, Rayna’s role as a career coach is never the same from day to day. “It’s a constant reminder that nobody’s problems are bigger than anyone else’s. We are just at different stages in our life,” Rayna says as she explains the crucial part she plays on Auburn’s campus. “I’m a safe space for talking about relationships and careers. They can cry and let it out. Then I help them figure it out.”
In between our discussions about helping students declare a major, resume building, and interviews, I couldn’t help wondering her thoughts on natural hair in the work place and overcoming its stigma in the corporate world. As a career coach with a bold haircut, I knew she’d be the perfect person to shed light on the subject.
“Our hair is a billboard to a large extent. Whether we want it to enter the room with us, it definitely does,” she explained. With a bit of a pause for emphasis, she bluntly admitted that dealing with the natural hair stigma is hard.
Anything that’s hard takes practice. It’s not necessarily that it ever goes away. It’s that you get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
I had to make sure I spoke louder than my thoughts. My thoughts were saying, “What if they don’t think you look professional? What if they’re judging you?” To combat that, I had to be very vocal about my skills.
You might want to sit in front of me at a meeting and look at my hair, but I’m speaking so loudly and so intelligently and with so much conviction that that you have no choice but to pay attention to what I’m saying.
My hair makes a statement in and of itself, but I want to make sure that my values, my work ethic, speak even louder.
It just makes me that much sharper as a professional because I know that they’re paying attention.
The minute I see people’s attention come to me I want to make sure they know exactly what I’m here to do.
And that, my girl, is the best “natural girl in a corporate world” philosophy I’ve heard in a while. Don’t mind if I do adopt that approach in life.
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