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Slaying our monsters in the world of work!



It can be daunting to think of developing one career in STEM, let alone two. Interestingly, this challenge presents itself as mammoth, but it can be overcome with the right ingredients. When my mother taught me how to cook, she explained that cooking was as much about the right ingredients as it was about planning. I was surprised. What would a person plan for in a meal, my 14-year-old self thought.


As I accompanied her cooking journey for a dinner for four, I was surprised at the amount of planning going on in the kitchen. The vegetables needed to be prepared in advance while the soy nuggets soaked. The spices needed to be ready with a spoon beside so they could go into the dish in the right order. This taught me to plan more efficiently for my then-career, writing. I was blessed to be able to have my detective fiction novel published when I was 13. It was a moment of pride, but I had merely put my thoughts down. I felt as though I was an impostor who had faked her way to publication, and to this day, the feeling still creeps up from time to time.


As I grew older, a new wave of impostor syndrome befriended me, feeling like the woman who accidentally made it in a man’s world, engineering. It was an interesting feeling because I made sure to work hard for my grades and interviews. When I landed the job of a technical writer at Arm, I was surprised they picked me. In fact, 2 years later, I asked my boss why he picked me! His honesty was what helped that old friend, self-doubt, drift away from me. He said that he saw something in me, and that was, surprisingly, all I needed to denigrate the painful notion of being an impostor. The person who hired me believed in me! I am aware that not many of us may have such an opportunity and a manager like mine. However, I highly recommend reflecting upon the qualities that set us apart. The simple act of writing down three things that set me apart was empowering.


With one monster slain, I moved to the next. I had the job of a technical writer, a three-book deal, and a patent for a bioplastic. How was I supposed to focus and perform as a technical writer while writing a trilogy and working with my patent lawyer?


I returned to my mother’s advice of planning. With an hour after work penciled in each day for writing, I am able to continue working on my books, and my patent work is scheduled for Saturday afternoons. While this may be a loose schedule, it gives me a sense of structure, and I am able to stay on top of things with my little task list for the day. In addition to this, I maintain a list of short-term (up to 3 months) and long-term (up to 2 years) goals for myself. Once again, the key here is to keep the list short and flexible. It is the journey that matters in the end.


With the GLAM Superpower Quiz, I discovered that my superpowers are Investigator, Developer, and Service Provider. As a technical author, I was overjoyed to see Service Provider and Investigator as superpowers since delivering accurate technical documentation alongside researching to find factually accurate information for documents is part of my daily job. As a Developer, I work on fiction novels and a bioplastic, which afford me the luxury of spending time to come up with creative solutions for my stories and improving the quality of the bioplastic.


I do hope that after reading this, you will write a list of three things that set you apart, my dear reader. In addition, I urge you to take the GLAM Superpower Quiz. It can work wonders for those struggling with impostor syndrome like I did. Remember, all it takes is planning and a dash of positivity.


Check out my Superpower Profile!


Keep on slaying,


Manisha Malhotra

Arm


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