How to Be an Authentic Multicultural Professional

How to Be an Authentic Multicultural Professional

I encourage young professionals to view their multicultural perspectives as an asset.

 

I grew up in Argentina, so you could say that I am Argentinian. But my dad immigrated there from Italy, so you could also say that there’s a lot of Italian in me. But then again, I’ve also spent the last 21 years living in the US, so you could also call me an American. I would call myself all three. It’s a rich cultural heritage that I’m extremely proud of, but when you are a part of more than one culture, you often feel like you don’t fully belong to any of them. You’re a cultural outsider and insider all at once.

These emotions often come under a magnifying glass when you enter the professional world. Everything from your accent to your understanding of cultural norms feels like it’s on display for the world to judge. I remember early on in my career, I had a big interview with a fairly large company in Atlanta, which would have been stressful enough on its own. As the meeting wrapped up, the interviewer complimented the clarity of my English … but a compliment on your English can also feel like a giant flashing sign pointing to your accent.

I felt extremely insecure in that moment, and afterward I spent years trying to fit the mold of the American professional. Rather than leveraging the natural inclinations I had gained through a multicultural upbringing, I tried to play the game like an American. Now, looking back, I wish I could share some hard-won wisdom with myself, and other young professionals in the same position:

All of the parts of yourself that you’re repressing to fit the American mold are the parts you should embrace the most. Your unique experiences bring value to clients and teams in ways they’d never expect. Try your very best to be authentic, even if it makes you stand out a little.

Most young professionals struggle with confidence, whether they’re American or not. They simply haven’t had enough experiences in their work lives to reassure them that they’re capable and knowledgeable. Imposter syndrome is real for everyone, but it can be especially overpowering when you’re new to both a profession and a culture.

I know that what overcomes those feelings is simply the confidence that comes with experience. But in the meantime, I want to encourage young professionals to view their multicultural perspectives as an asset. If you say an English word incorrectly, take a friend’s correction in stride. Laugh at your faux pas, and allow your humility to draw others to you. Be vulnerable with your colleagues when you do need to understand something more about the culture you’re working in — then they’ll be able to be more vulnerable with you, too.

I have found that my accent actually makes me more memorable to my clients, and my experiences allow me to bring unique perspectives to my professional circles. I’ve built deep relationships with the people I’ve turned to for guidance when I’m in uncharted territory.

Looking back, I can see that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t conceal my identity to fit someone else’s mold. When I stopped trying to hide and let my authenticity shine, I finally saw how much it benefited me and everyone around me.

Related content:

Four Marketing Insights to Engage a Culturally Diverse Marketplace

Multicultural Executive Style and Appearance

Executive Presence for Small Business Owners Today

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Lourdes Norton
Lourdes Norton is the founder and owner of Twin Realty Group, Austin’s leading boutique residential real estate firm. With over ten years’ experience in business, marketing, and international affairs, Lourdes thrives on helping manage the transition of moving. In addition to helping her clients navigate the overwhelming processes involved in finding, funding, and purchasing a home, Lourdes finds incredible satisfaction in helping families procure the perfect home in which to build their lives, raise their children, and pursue their own version of the American dream. With a Master’s degree in International Affairs and a background in sales and project management, Lourdes is well-versed in serving the needs of a diverse community while demonstrating the kind of comprehensive leadership and multitasking skills crucial to closing the deal. Fluent in English, Spanish and Italian, Lourdes has crafted Twin Realty Group to serve the needs of every type of Austin resident, and expanded the company to assist multilingual clients and those making international relocations.