The Falsehood Of "Getting Your Foot In The Door"

You're experiencing what most people experience every day. With that, I blame the companies who have failed their employees.

Workin' Girl

After switching your tassel to the appropriate side, you feel a sigh of relief move within your body. You have finally gotten the degree your parents wished for you to have and career counselors helped you get. You are waking up the next day after your graduation high, reality sets in. It would be best if you found a job. Hopefully, you networked and collected valuable numbers to use at a further date, or you've landed an internship at a top tier company. Or, you could be the student who didn't bother to get the extra help and decided to follow your path.

Whatever choice you made, you will encounter a job or a position that isn't the best, but you heard the advice of "getting your foot in the door". Fast-forward to three years later, and you are still in the same position awaiting to get your foot in the door. Before you have a panic attack, I would like to mention that it isn't your fault. You're experiencing what most people experience every day. With that, I blame the companies who have failed their employees.

When the economy came crashing down in 2008, it was tough for anyone to find a job. No matter what degree you had, it was a strong possibility that you wouldn't get paid what you're worth. If you were a new graduate, I'm sure you've hated reading the terms "experience required or experience preferred". It's impossible to gain the experience you need to get the job you want when companies aren't willing to take a risk on you and give you a chance.

As a student or graduate, you've done your part; you got the grades and completed the amount of free time to dedicate yourself to an internship.

As I've gotten into the groove of my career, I'm noticing a trend that I am open and willing to share in hopes to bring a different perspective. Companies are no longer grooming their employees to get promoted. They aren't challenging or encouraging their employees to reach their full potential. For that, I find it shameful. Some of the top Fortune 500 companies don't have a clear-cut training program for their employees, and cross-training is now an afterthought. No matter how many "meetings" you have with your supervisor or manager about your personal goals, it's a 100% possibility that a follow-through on that plan won't even get started.

Departments agree to take on more work and hiring less, leaving the current employees overworked. As you sit at your desk and look at the clock, you tend to wonder if it was worth it. Was the blood, sweat and tears to earn that degree to get the job that you didn't want but desperately needed worth it? After moving on to your fifth job, you notice the same trend. You sit and wonder what exactly you are going to do. You can't pay back your student loans with a minimum wage job.

So, I've created five ways that would help you get in, through, and open the door you wish to desire.

1. Use Your Annual Reviews To Your Advantage


Before going in to meet with your manager about your yearly evaluation, they will email questions about the past year. They want to know your perspective of your performance, and they will give their view of your return. During that meeting, you and your manager will compare and contrast your responses. There will be a section that says, "Goals". Having set goals allows you to discuss the goals in which you want to achieve. It puts your manager in the hot seat and forced to provide you with an explanation.

2. Ask Questions

What better way to learn a new position than to ask about the job. Even if you know how to complete the duties, ask to show that you are more than interested in learning. Continue to ask questions until they give you a trial run on the position you want. Once that opportunity presents itself, show up and show out. If you make a mistake, acknowledge the error immediately. People admire integrity.

3. Work After Work


For most, sometimes asking questions and meeting with your manager isn't enough. Sometimes it's best to get the outside help that you need to advance your career. If your position has a certification, then it would be best to study and take the test. If your profession requires additional classes or refresher course, then it would be best to get a certificate of completion. If your position affiliates with any updated news and current events, then prepare for those new changes to your advantage. If studying for your certification isn't in your view, think about ways to improve your position. Sometimes it can be as simple as creating a training manual or studying the software that you use to make sure you are doing your work efficiently. See if your company is having any seminars and attend those. Many companies will offer to pay for your tuition if it's related to your current position.

4. Create An Emergency Fund

The majority of working adults today don't aspire to be at a company for 30+ years. In the 21st century, that has become a rarity. If you ever get the urge to quit or you feel like your position is on the line, it's best to save at least six months of your expenses in an emergency fund. Sometimes stepping away from a company to get the answers you need are best. If you aren't the best at saving, use your EAP benefits through your company to see if they have financial advisors to help guide you to get your savings started.

5. Find A New Job


If you did everything in your power to improve and climb up the ladder, then maybe it's time to consider your options. IF you don't want to completely start new, it's best to see if any internal positions are available. Seek out a letter of recommendation from one of your co-workers or use them as a reference. Evaluate the skills that you have already and see how they can be used to your advantage when looking for a new position or a new job. Tweak your resume to reflect that. If all else fails, maybe it's time to look deep within yourself and ask if this is a career you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life. Sometimes the worst situation can turn into something more rewarding if you can turn it into a business venture. There are endless inspirational stories of individuals who took that leap of faith and followed their true passion.

I've been in the healthcare industry for five or more years and am currently on my third company. I've met and learned so many things. If I could give any advice to any current graduate or graduates who just got hired, I would say the first three months of any job are the most vital. The company provides you a probationary period to see if you are a good fit within the department and the company. I would suggest that you the employee give the company a mental probationary period. Ask your co-workers questions about their work history or if they received any promotions within the last six months. It's a perfect time to pick their brain and introduce yourself to the higher-ups. Give a two- to three-minute pitch on who you are and what goals you want to achieve. If you leave a lasting impression, those higher-ups will never forget you. Keep a log of your accomplishments. Your task is to convince your supervisor or manager why you qualify for a promotion.

The worst thing you can do is sit and say nothing. You will become that individual who will be stuck in that position asking yourself, 'Why me?'

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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