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As a young engineer you expect to go through trials and tribulations along your journey. The start-up phase of any and everything you do is always a jigsaw puzzle.

But I’ve encountered another unforeseen obstacle.

Career junctions

Professionally, I’ve been exposed to a vast amount of knowledge spanning several industries. I'm even considered a system expert in some. I understand that no two individuals share a thought process but that shouldn’t be an excuse for us to blatantly disregard others' capabilities without justified research.

Right?

What I am alluding to is a junction I reached in my career recently. On the left was a path riddled with cliques of people who had been networking for many years and refused to work with anyone new. To my right was a much more difficult path, populated with talented, driven, and fully qualified self-starters in search of networks. Dead ahead was a continuation of the same everyday routine and a bland, stagnant professional future.

Define your own lane

There’s a lane for everyone, but it’s up to you to define your own.

By continuing to work my day job and then burning the midnight oil working for myself I created my own lane. This way I could control my own destiny—or so I thought. Once I set up all of my business paperwork, certificates, and licenses, I bid on a few projects with high hopes. I assessed the probability of my obtaining one or more of these contracts and my chances were high.

But there was a problem: little did I know that being registered as a minority-owned business is off-putting to some companies for reasons unknown. No one will explicitly reveal this information to you; it’s just something you should know. Now I know, so I’m telling you—learn from the failures of those who came before you.

Unexpected obstacles

I came back with zero contracts, even though my company was more than capable of performing the work. I reached out to discover why. I was told “We have no desire to give business to a minority-owned business at this time”.

Wait… WHAT?!?

Yup! He said that!

My response?

To whom it may concern:

An MBE is a classification of businesses are at least 51% minority-owned, operated, and controlled. This was put into play to level the playing field against discrimination. There is always a need to collaborate with other businesses. The fact that we are an MBE should have no bearing on your decision because success has no color line.

Business is an open-minded sport. All projects over a certain caliber have a legal obligation to employ an MBE.

Know your worth

This is one of many unavoidable obstacles on the road less-traveled by ambitious minority freelancers.

The key to maintaining your excellence is internalizing your worth and understanding that running from it will not save you. You must be the master of your fate and use tenacity as a guide to success. Perseverance is key.

Stay hungry!

Deondra Randle is originally from Portland, OR but resides in Boston. He has diverse interests and is very dedicated to networking, advancing the state of rail, and immersing himself in the technical freelance community and in the culture of entrepreneurship at every chance.