HerStory™ featuring Mikayla Farr, Health Communications Specialist – DRT Strategies. Mikayla shares her experience as a young woman in her 20’s leveraging technology to make a change in the Health Communications industry. Continue reading to learn about Mikayla’s ways we can be intentional about creating a work-life balance
I am most passionate about. . .
It has been my dream since I was an undergrad. I switched my major from broadcast journalism, to public relations and I could feel like I was missing something, I was empty. I did not feel connected to the projects I was doing in school. I was missing that health communications piece, that soul. The health of Americans is so important, especially knowing that 50% of African American women are overweight and that is something that is close to my family and my community. I am so grateful to work full time in Health Communications and have the flexibility to build my own platform to talk about the issues that I am most passionate about.
My greatest career hurdle has been. . .
My own health.
The first job I accepted out of grad school I did not take care of my mental or physical health.
It was a good job, with good money – but at what cost? I knew it was not going to work, I could not do this for 30/40 years, I was already burnt out.
I took a break from working to focus on my mental and physical health. It took me time to recognize that my career was not ending. I was prioritizing my health to find out what the best next choice was for me. I allowed myself to be picky in my career choice and to take the time to find the perfect job that valued work life balance and gave me the opportunity to be there for myself, for my family, and not have to sacrifice anything.
My greatest career accomplishment has been. . .
What I learned from my hurdle.
I now feel confident and comfortable to speak up when I feel overwhelmed or cannot take on another project. I thought it was obvious at my last job, but maybe I did not make it clear! I was able to reflect on that and take it to my new position and advocate for myself. I have learned that I can get the work done but I can also have balance and put boundaries in place and look out for myself. Being in my 20s, I felt like I had to hustle 24/7 and prove myself but I realized I am going to do a good job…but, life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
I believe the greatest opportunity for future generations of women leaders is. . .
The power of the internet and social media.
Future generations of women can capitalize on social media and come into their first jobs with an online portfolio and skills/experience that I hope will be of the same value as the 9-5 experience. My blog helps me stay active within my community and gives me the chance to do what I love and share my wealth of knowledge with my community.
The mentor who has the greatest impact on my career has been. . .
She was my supervisor/mentor at my first “real job” through the Rollins Earn and Learn (REAL) program at my school.
She embodied the values of work life balance. If she had to leave early to be with her kids, she did that and emphasized the importance of balance. Being in that environment felt good and I thought that was how all organizations were. I quickly realized, that was not the case, but I knew it was possible because I have experienced it before! She was so supportive when I left my job and would send me open positions and stay in touch. She was a professional that did not seem burned out. She carried herself well…a working woman who had it all.
If I could meet one person who I believe has had the greatest impact on the growth and development of women, it would be. . .
But, also, every woman who has helped her get to that point AND all the women who have now led us to have a female Vice President of the United States of America. Some of them did fail, but they failed forward to allow Kamala to be the first woman, the first bi-racial, and one of the select few to touch that bible to be sworn into office.
Kamala is the depiction of women ‘having it all’. She is a wife, stepmother, a senator, an attorney general, the Vice President of the United States of America.
My future children are going to be born into a world with more diversity, more equality, more opportunities for the growth and development of women. We can do anything. We are breaking so many glass ceilings. And this is just the beginning!
To me, inclusivity means . . .
Recognizing the intersectionality of people’s lived experiences.
We must be cognizant of gender, of race, of sexual identity differences.
I am a black woman, who was born in Detroit but lived in the suburbs. My experiences are different from another woman, who was born in Detroit, and resides there.
To be inclusive in the workplace means to recognize it. By not calling out those differences, but by recognizing those differences. It reminds me of a story when I was at a conference near the mall I grew up near, I mentioned that I lived close to the mall and a male counterpart said “you must have lived in one of those apartments” … I did not, but what if I had? I grew up with a single mom, who worked really hard to provide for me and my siblings. Comments like that, those microaggressions, are the reason we need more TYPES of diversity training. Not “this is what it means to be different” but learning to be mindful of your facial expressions, your body language, the words you use and how all of that can impact or really hurt someone. That happened years ago but it still stays with me. We cannot be afraid to have those conversations and stick up for one another. Seeing that person. Letting them know you are a safe space, and they are not alone – that they can go to you and the both of you can go from there and determine how to address it.
The greatest piece of advice I have to give women is. . .
Stop saying “they’re so young” when new team members join.
For women in their 20s, it creates such a barrier to have their age called out. We need to be more open to young women in the workplace. We have great ideas to contribute that are coming to the table with knowledge that we just learned in school or in an internship that might not have been taught 20 years ago. We see how things are operating in real time out in the world and realize the value of social and digital media. We should be working together, at all ages, at all stages, to put out the best work or product. Use our collective knowledge and produce something that has the best of each generation in it. This pandemic changed our lives and the way we work – now is the time to adapt even more and embrace the change.
When I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed at work, my go to, to get to a healthier place is. . .
Take a walk!
Taking breaks throughout the workday is so important. Back when we were still working in-person, I worked on a beautiful campus filled with nature, trees, and plenty of sidewalk space. It also had a walking trail! Whenever I would feel stressed or overwhelmed at work, I would just lock my computer, change into my tennis shoes, and go out for a nice long walk. I had no problem taking walks alone, but it was nice to be able to have coworkers join me from time to time! These days, working from home my walks are different. It may be a quick walk outside with the dog, or a walk downstairs for puppy cuddles and a snack from the fridge! Either way, stepping away from my computer for a quick break always helps me de-stress and bring me back to center.