Professional Keep It Keep-Emicheyf171

  Display Name Emickeyf171

Age (or age range): 24

Degrees: BS Chemical and Life Science Engineering

Industry: Energy

Title: Environmental Advisor

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1. Based on your profession and corporate culture, what were your primary concerns about wearing natural hair in the workplace? How did you overcome them?

DSCF3312I just graduated from college in May 2009 and I have only been working full time for about six months.  When I interviewed for my job I straightened my hair.  (check out pics to the left) This was more by force than by choice, because of my mother's experience in the corporate culture I took her advice.  I had to conform to get the job.  Point blank.  I didn't want to be perceived as "militant, political, or aggressive" and needed to appear "normal" to not let my hair affect my chances to secure an offer.  I think its sad that today "Perception is Reality" and how you wear your hair plays a role in securing a job or not.  Do I think I would have not gotten the job if I wore my natural hair? I am not sure, but there aren't enough examples of curly girls in the media or in high positions in Corporate America.  We have a long way to go but in the last 10 years the image has changed. The only natural diva that DSCF3327comes to mind is Ursula Banks CEO of Xerox.  Needless to say my resume, work history, and interviewing skills prevailed and I was offered the job.  Flash forward to my first day at work.  It was the heat of the summer and my natural tresses had endured enough heat for the year, so straightening was not an option.  I went to work with my fro in a neat puff.  I held my head up high knowing that I'm happy to be nappy letting the world know this is who I am and I am not changing for no one.  My weekly routine turned into every Sunday after a deep conditioning, I twist or style my hair for the week, and on off weeks I rock a puff or half up/half down style.  The way to overcome any apprehension about hair is to do you! You only perform your best on the job if you are 100% comfortable in your skin in the working environment.

2. How did your co-workers, clients and boss respond when you revealed your new do?

Since my current co-workers and boss only have known of me with natural hair there wasn't much of a response or reaction until I straightened my hair.  I was overdue for a trim and decided to blow it out, get a good trim, and straighten it.  I was overloaded with compliments about how people loved my hair.  All while thinking what's wrong with my black cotton curls? LOL Two days later, I was back to my slap happy nappy curls.  I missed my fro.  I am sure many naturals can attest to straightened hair and not feeling complete waiting the return of your curls.

3. Has your performance been rewarded since you’ve been natural? If not, do you believe your hair has been a factor? Any regrets?

Yes, I have gotten much praise since I have been working, but that's strictly performance.  I do not think my hair played a role in those rewards.  I do believe and think people perceive me in a certain way, both from my personality and being natural.  I am curious to see if anyone has been turned down from a promotion because of their appearance specifically their "natural hair"?

4. What advice would you offer a professional peer who’s on the fence about going natural?

Never limit yourself! Most natural divas have horror stories from bad relaxers, brittle hair, and bald spots, and it was the reason they went natural.  Go natural for you, Do you!  Being natural is not for everyone.  Transition using twist or braids extensions until your natural hair is at a length that is manageable.  Educate, Educate, Educate yourself on natural hair care.  There are so many wonderful websites, blogs, youtube videos, and magazines that give you valuable information on how to style, maintain, and moisturize your natural tresses.  Be prepared when you do your BC (Big chop) for reactions, side comments, and naysayers.  Having natural hair is professional and its up to us to change the perception in the workplace.


  1. My daughter graduated from college 13 years ago. She wore braids with extensions for all of her interviews. She was hired by Bell Atlantic (now Verison) as a mechanical engineer. In fact, she received 3 job offers. As her mother, I was concerned with her interviewing with natural hair. It is a shame that we are concerned about our natural beauty.
    I am happy that you are wearing your natural hair styles. I wear my hair natural also. I'm retired and happy to be nappy. My older friends look at me strangely sometimes but that's ok too.
    Continued blessings on your career.

  2. Love this post. I'm in the process of interviewing with some potential jobs and deciding how I should wear my hair to positively market myself.....this opened my eyes to some different things to consider.

  3. I would like for your to elaborate on the statement, "Being natural is not for everyone"??? If a person can't be natural (which we haven't for centuries), what does that say about us mentally? Are we that weak minded? When will this slavemaster mind control end?