“If a little voice in your head is telling you there’s something else out there, don’t ignore it.”
Coming from a background that most would consider different from their own, Nima is used to uncomfortable and, at times, awkward questions. She’s been asked many times about her family heritage, her sexual orientation and even the logistics of her pregnancy. But each time she’s asked, Nima reminds herself that most of these questions come from a place of genuine interest, even if their delivery might seem inappropriate. For this reason, she finds an authentic way to respond to each question – while protecting her own privacy and comfort – and has found this practice has served her well.
We’re grateful to have had the opportunity to ask Nima our questions and to receive her thoughtful and candid advice.
Don’t give up on loving your career. Sometimes you have to take a lot of jobs you don’t really want in order to get where you’re meant to be. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Remember each job has the potential to bring you one step closer toward your destination. And if you have nagging doubts like Nima did, remember her own story as proof that there is a career out there you will love; you just have to find it.
Lean in, lean out, lean less. When asked how she maintained her individuality throughout her professional career in academia and law, Nima shared that she struggled with the overly prevalent and conflicting advice that is most often directed toward women. She encourages us to set aside the catch phrases and trust our instincts. It’s possible to admire and respect someone and still not find their advice applicable to your personal situation. For Nima, A Year of Yes felt far more applicable than other commonly read advice books.
Be honest with yourself about who you are and what’s important to you. Ask yourself at each step of your journey, “Does this matter to me? And if so, why?”. Be able to recognize and accept when the right reasons aren’t there and don’t be afraid to move on.
I’ve had mentors, but I wouldn’t call them all wonderful. Nima shared a number of personal examples of mentors she’s had throughout her journey, further sharing that not all of them had her best interest in mind. Even when their intentions are genuine, mentors may make suggestions without taking the time to fully understand your future aspirations and career goals. Because the right kind of mentor can be hard to find, Nima encourages you to identify those who have been guiding you and formally ask them to be your mentor. She even recommends going one step further by taking the time to tell them what your goals are and how they can help you reach them.
Practice with your peers. When asked how to enact her advice and put aside feelings of “imposter syndrome”, Nima suggests practicing with peers you trust. Having the opportunity to rehearse what you might say in certain situations with someone you can share your doubts with will help you put your thoughts into action.
Reach out. Nima graciously asked that we share her contact information with you. Collecting business cards is one thing, but knowing what to do with them is even better. Consider this an open invitation to reach out if she can be helpful in any way: firstname.lastname@example.org