sahara holding laptop

UPDATE 31 October 2019 - LinkedIn Status has changed due to it being confirmed after publication of this post from a representative that they do not have a system to verify the legitimacy of a company, rather it is up to the job seeker to 'report' job postings.

At the time of publishing this, 30 October 2019,  ZipRecruiter has emailed me on 25 October 2019 requesting the company name and are looking into the issue. 

So, let's talk about ZipRecruiter. Last week, I discovered that my data submitted to a job application on their site was given to a third party company. I detailed the sequence of events as it happened via my twitter account in a thread.

So let's summarize the events from last week of data misuse:

On October 15th was the first time I officially started using ZipRecuiter as a means to apply for jobs. I applied to 5 companies on their site that day. On the morning of October 16 I received an email from, let's call this company Company X, asking me to click a link to verify my email address and in the very same second thanking me for verifying and welcoming me to the platform. I never clicked the link to verify, and Company X was not one of the companies I applied to that day.

So I found the support email on Company X website and sent an email requesting the account I never created to be deleted and to know from where my data was retrieved from and how my email and other details were inputed into their system.

Yes, I wanted my account I never created removed but I also wanted to know where they retrieved my data from - your digital footprint is something that should be in your control not in the hands of a company's algorithm to create a fraudulent account from data you never gave consent for them to take.

An hour or so later they replied to my email saying they would remove the account immediately and let me know how my data entered their database. I waited 7 days for Company X to tell me how they got my data, and when they didn't respond I sent a follow up email on October 23 asking how and where my data was retrieved from so that I could act accordingly.

They retrieved my data from a ZipRecruiter application.

It turns out when I applied for a job on ZipRecruiter, Company X has a feature on their site that once someone applies to a job that's also listed on their job board on ZipRecruiter then it creates an account on their website.

So: ZipRecruiter has a job that Company X also has on their job board -> job seeker applies via ZipRecruiter -> Company X creates an account on their website that is never mentioned on ZipRecruiter application.

The only thing listed on the ZipRecruiter application is Company Y, the company that is looking to fill the position not Company X that ALSO has the position listed on their site. So, job seekers may have accounts on company sites like X and not even realize that ZipRecruiter is not regulating enough and companies like Company X take their data to another database.

Company X is now decommissioning this feature after my back and forth email with them requesting how they got my data.

If I wasn't paying attention to my email on the morning of October 16th, I wouldn't have even noticed that an account was created for me without my consent - as I mentioned above Company X didn't even need me to verify my email by clicking, their algorithm verified my email and fraudulent account even though they sent me an email to verify and I never did.

I decided to take a look at ZipRecruiter's Terms and Conditions. I began to wonder what it said relating to third parties taking data submitted through ZipRecruiter. The terms and conditions confirmed the illegality of sharing data with a third party, yet here we are.

Is ZipRecruiter regulating companies that post a job posting? Company X had a feature on their website that when a job seeker applies on ZipRecruiter to Company Y, then the job seeker's data is sent to Company X database to create an account without the job seeker's consent.

How are they keeping track of companies with this feature? Is the only way for companies like Company X to get caught taking data without the job seeker's consent dependent on if the job seeker keeps a close eye on their email? Company X decommissioned the feature the second I requested to know where they retrieved my data from. As ZipRecruiter operates in Europe as well, GDPR, I began to wonder how safe was it to actually use this site as a means to find a job.

I was always told that ZipRecruiter was an external recruiter, so job seeker applies and someone else submits you to the position rather than a direct contact of job seeker applies -> applied to position.

What I found was actually worse.

It turns out ZipRecruiter does not verify or authenticate Users or guarantee that a job advertisement is suitable, legitimate or real. So, quite literally, anyone can say they're a company hiring for XYZ and you as a job seeker can be put in danger if you see an ~official~ looking email from a company that doesn't exist at all setting a time for an interview. Also some people do put their phone number and address on their resume which means they [the person posing as a company looking to hire] have a direct means to access you and know where you live.

So I went through a few job board sites terms and conditions so you don't have to.

Looking for a job means you're constantly on multiple different job boards trying to find opportunities. Most companies use more than one site or just use one particular site to promote their new opportunity. I know going through terms and conditions of a site is something we have to check off on when creating an account, but realistically speaking a lot of us just click check and never read the terms and conditions. So, I decided to go through the terms and conditions or reach out directly where necessary to job board sites and list my findings in alphabetical order to the answer of one question: Does the job board verify the legitimacy of a company and position posted?

❌ AngelList

This took longer to find that I thought it would. AngelList's terms of use has a main section and three sub-sections: Terms of ServiceTalent General TermsSource TermsJobs Terms. The section that we job seekers care about in terms of verifying the job offer is in Terms of Service and Talent General Terms.

Terms of Service: According to IV. Limit of the Company's Obligation section B. Verifying Due Diligence, AngelList does not verify materials or information provided by entrepreneurs.

Verifying Due Diligence. We are not responsible for doing diligence on the Entrepreneurs, Investors, Job Seekers or other users you meet through AngelList or verifying any representations, materials or other information provided by Entrepreneurs, Investors, Job Seekers or other users to you.

Talent General Terms: According to V. Release and Indemnity they do not verify the accuracy of any content.

Without limiting the foregoing, you acknowledge that Users are solely responsible for (i) verifying and ensuring the accuracy, completeness and legality of any Content; (ii) determining the suitability of any Candidate for any job or opportunity posted through the Services (including, by way of interviews, vetting, references, background checks and other similar actions);

❌ Dice

Dice is fairly new to me - I discovered them as I was looking for jobs on NY Times Jobs and one of the links led me here. Based on their terms and conditions, your use of the site is entirely at your own risk and they do not verify the accuracy of the job posting.

The Company does not evaluate or censor the resumes, job listings or other information posted to the Site. Moreover, the Company is not involved in the actual transaction, if any, between potential employers and candidates. Consequently, we have no control over the quality, safety or legality of the job listings or resumes posted to the Site, the truth or accuracy of such job listings or resumes, the ability of employers to hire candidates or the ability of candidates to fill job openings.

✅ Elpha

Elpha is a community where women in tech talk candidly online - think Reddit + LinkedIn but better. After reaching out to Elpha via email, the Co-founder and COO Kuan Luo confirmed that they verify the companies by doing their own research and by talking with the founders/team directly.

In terms of submitting an application, the open roles for the company they themselves verify are listed on Lever, GreenHouse or AngelList. Kuan also mentioned that they rely on member feedback to ensure that the Elpha community members have a positive experience connecting with and interviewing at their partner companies.

❌ Glassdoor

According to section D. Applying on Glassdoor, they do not guarantee the identity of an employer and caution job seekers when applying to jobs. You as the job seeker are responsible for verifying the job posting. A snippet of their terms of use is below:

Glassdoor does not guarantee the identity of an employer or any individuals working for any employers, and cautions job seekers when applying to jobs. Glassdoor does not guarantee the validity of a job offer and cautions job seekers to verify the validity of a job offer before taking an adverse action regarding their current employment situations. You are solely responsible for verifying the accuracy of any employer or job offer.

❌ Indeed

According to Indeed General Terms of Service, 1A, they do not guarantee the identity of an employer and caution job seekers when applying to jobs. You as the job seeker are responsible for verifying the job posting. Unless it says 'apply on company site', I would advise not to apply on Indeed.

Indeed does not guarantee the identity of an Employer or any individuals working for any Employers, and cautions Job Seekers when applying to jobs. Indeed does not guarantee the validity of a job offer and cautions Job Seekers to verify the validity of a job offer before taking an adverse action regarding their current employment situations. Job Seekers are solely responsible for verifying the accuracy of any Employer or job offer.


LinkedIn is universally known as the best way to look/search for jobs, here is what I was able to determine from their terms and conditions:  They specify that companies are not allowed to intentionally misrepresent a job, hiring company or poster. Companies also do have to pay to post their job posting, and LinkedIn must accept the job posting.

Also included in 2. Job Services:

Without limiting the prohibitions in the User Agreement or any other applicable agreement, you agree that you will not, and you will not enable or authorize any third party, by virtue of the Postings, Destinations, or use of the Jobs Services, to:
  • Create Postings without a reasonable and legitimate intent to hire for a bona fide job opportunity or the specific position listed.
In order for someone to make a LinkedIn Business/Company page they also have a criteria to meet as a means for verifying the legitimacy of a company including: your personal profile must be at least 7 days old, have multiple connections to demonstrate strong networking skills to show that the profile is not a fake, and an email address listed that is from your company (i.e. not a personal email such as gmail or hotmail).

I reached out via email to clarify their terms and conditions and according to a Member Support Consultant only authorized personnel can post jobs for specific companies. However, they do not have a specific system that verifies all of the job postings on LinkedIn but they do have a well equipped team to handle any report of certain job postings that could be false.

For this reason, after much consideration, I've decided to give them a hazard sign. They do have some sort of criteria, but at the end of the day they do not have a system that verifies all of the job postings on LinkedIn and it is up to the job seeker to report job postings that seem illegitimate. 

✅ TechLadies

TechLadies is a great community that connects you with the best jobs and opportunities in tech. After reaching out to TechLadies via email, the CEO and Founder Allison Esposito Medina confirmed that they vet each job posting to make sure the company is real to the best of their ability. They look at fundraising sites such as Crunchbase, search for founders online, and view sites, such as Glassdoor, for reviews of the application process etc. to piece together if the company is legitimate. Although Allison mentions that this isn't entirely foolproof, what sets them apart from others is that their site is paid and they charge hiring fees. So, the company aiming to be on their job board must be established enough to have a budget set aside.

By charging hiring fees and requiring payment to be given the privilege of being on their job board, this weeds out fake companies/start-ups with no actual end goal. The job posting is not posted on their job board unless the payment has gone through.

TechLadies is a closed community so in order for applicants to even view the job board, they have to apply to be accepted into the community. Allison confirmed that TechLadies does not share or sell anyone's data and the only time a company will receive an application from a TechLadies member is if the member applies to that job specifically.

⚠️ Way Up

This is a company that was not straightforward in their terms and conditions on whether or not they verify the accuracy and legitimacy of a job posting. They do not verify candidates (job seekers) who apply for jobs but they do not mention if this is the same attitude towards employers. However, they do mention that they may look into job postings at their own discretion but they are not obligated to.

The reason why they have a ⚠️ rather than a ❌is because they do not explicitly say they do not verify the job posting rather they say can look into the job posting if they feel like it.

At the start of their Terms and Agreements:

For avoidance of doubt, WayUp disclaims any responsibility for any employment or contracting opportunities, employment or contracting services, or any other services or products acquired or made available through our Services

In section 2. Verification:

By registering with our Services, you hereby authorize WayUp to verify any representations and warranties you make either pursuant to these Terms or within any materials submitted during the registration process, including conducting background checks, contacting any provided references, and reviewing public records. You acknowledge that while WayUp reserves the right to verify these representations and warranties, WayUp is not obligated to do so, and may choose not to do so, at WayUp’s sole discretion.

In section 3. Listing Employment or Contracting Opportunities:

For avoidance of doubt, each Job Posting must comply with all restrictions hereunder, including those governing the submission of User Content and general use of our Services. WayUp may, but is not obligated to, make an independent investigation of the Job Posting to ensure full compliance with these Terms. If WayUp determines, in its sole discretion, that any representation or warranty made by you pursuant to these Terms is in any way false, incomplete, or inaccurate, WayUp may, at any time, reject, remove, or suspend or delay the posting of your Job Posting, in whole or in part. WayUp may, but is not obligated to, provide you with an explanation for the rejection or removal of any of your Job Postings from our Services.

sahara end logo
Sahara hand on top side of head on the track

Starting to make something a habit is always the hardest part of actually doing said habit. I'm pretty sure we all know the saying it takes 30 days to make a habit and it's most likely something we all think of once the new year comes around. Last week, I managed to convince a friend of mine to do a 10 Day Ab Workout Challenge with Chari Hawkins (Team USA Heptathlete) with me, she noticed I posted it on my Instagram Story and wanted to know what it was all about. Today is Day 8 of the challenge where every day Chari Hawkins uploads a new video with the ab workout for the day and we're both still going strong - last home stretch!

Working out is something that's been ingrained in my own routine for a few years now.

I've been consistently working out more seriously these past few years and so doing a workout is quite literally like clock work each day that's not my rest day. I mentioned in previous posts that I've been running track since I was 13/14 and prior to that I was always active in Basketball, Soccer and Karate. No matter what my schedule is, getting a workout is always apart of it.  I used to run in the mornings but when I had a temp job months ago I moved all my workouts to the evening. They're still in the evenings as I use my 9-5 for applying, blog work and coding challenges. Working out is so ingrained in my schedule, that a day without working out on a day not designated as a rest day is the equivalent to question marks. If the workout doesn't fit where it always was, then it's time to shift it around not shift it out of your life. Even if it means working out at 1AM.

sahara smiling at camera with hands on top of head on the track
evening photos = quality needs saving

Quite literally, the track, my yoga mat for floor ab workouts, my jump rope to work on coordination and stability etc. is kind of what I describe as being home. I had a stiff neck and shoulder for 2 weeks and couldn't run because recovery™is the queen in this house and if I'm not 100% it's heat pads and ice on loop. To be honest the illogical side of my brain wanted to go running after 2 days even though I was still using head pads on my neck and shoulder but the logical stopped my brain stopped that plan from going into motion. And by that I mean my mom gave me the look and I was back on my ice for my neck.

You really don't realize how important your shoulder girdle and your neck are for running until you suddenly can't tilt your neck and your shoulder is the equivalent to question marks - your daily reminder to pls upgrade your pillow. When I finally got back to running I swear it's like I finally found my way back to my home™.

Now I wouldn't be me if I didn't go on a random tangent. Let's get back on topic.

Making a habit stick is the hard part, but the hardest part is trying to jump over the hurdle of 'there's always tomorrow'.

The most important thing is to take that first step to start.

Taking the first step is always the hardest one. The reason for that is because whatever it is you choose to do, it's something that isn't a set part of routine yet so it's not like clock work that you return to it each day. Take the 10 day challenge for example, you're doing something everyday for 10 days and by the end of it on Day 11 you may still want to get some sort of workout in because you've already gotten used to it being in your schedule. If we diverge away from running for a bit, let's talk about blogging. So you may or may not have noticed that this is my first blog post with my official domain. I actually started blogging three years ago with a friend and in the end my friend didn't want to continue but I decided to keep going with it - uploading once a week- and here we are three years later, me typing this post.

sahara smiling at camera with hands on top of head on track
the more I look at this photo the more I realize taking evening track photos precisely 5 minutes before sunset was not the greatest idea

I've had my fair amount of breaks in between from when I was finishing up my degree to taking breaks for inspiration but I've always come back to my blog because I genuinely enjoy writing my tangents of thoughts to actual sentences. If there's something you enjoy doing, you'll always find your way back to it.

Whenever you're starting something new there's always that feeling of trying to start at your level 23 rather than at your level 1 because you feel you have to be ~perfect~ at everything from the start. One thing I will say is to enjoy your progress to get to where you want to be rather than saving your enjoyment for the destination. The whole process of learning and becoming better at whatever it is you've chosen to add to your day-to-day is the best part of the journey because that's where your self-motivation to what you want to bring into your life starts to thrive.

The only limit is yourself.

Perhaps the most cliche line you'll ever find written on my blog, but it's true. I was recently watching a YouTube video of Sydney McLaughlin and she mentioned that the only limit was herself. So much of what we choose not to do - regarding something that can contribute to our growth - is inner us pulling us back from our potential. Making something a habit is more down to how much you are able to mute the inner voice trying to take you away from something that is a stepping stone for your personal growth.

I've ben toying with the idea of writing an 'I Will' list for the start of every week or maybe even everyday similar to a To-Do list - something about I will do XYZ rather than I want to do XYZ sounds more definite to me. A lot of making something a habit comes from within you and your own personal drive to always be better than you were the day before.

sahara on track moving hand mid-photo
we love a good blur, this is what happens when you move your hand the same moment as you click the button on your tripod remote

When I was doing ab workout Day 7, Chari Hawkins mentioned that although she posted the videos for the workouts, it was us who made the active decision to set aside time to include the workout in our day. And she's right. We didn't have to do the workout, but we made the conscious effort to make sure we got it done. It's just us holding ourselves accountable. Well, she did say we'd have abs at the end of it so I guess that's a good incentive to keep showing up with my yoga mat because my abs are now holding me accountable for their existence.

You don't have to wait for tomorrow or the beginning of a month to start something.

Although I've definitely waited to start something at the beginning of the month in the past, it does make more sense to start the very same day (or if you're a night owl reading this, this is the only acceptable reason to think tomorrow is a good idea too) to start that blog, workout schedule or even start learning how to play the piano. The more we push it off, the more inner us starts getting comfortable with the idea of 'tomorrow' until 3 months pass and we're still saying we'll start it tomorrow. 

Start by putting one foot on either side of your bike and suddenly you're in motion with something new as your pedals and your hands on the handle bars holding on for dear life as you direct through this starting period. But soon your hands won't grip so tight on the handle bars, and you won't be as tense pushing forward because starting's the hard part. Keeping going on the other hand, once you made it a habit to continue coming back to it, is the easy part.

So let's talk about starting something new and making habits - what's something you want to start and make a habit of?
sahara end logo
Sahara running on the track
slowly getting the hang of setting up my tripod + running  hence why it's a lil blurry

Running sneaker shopping is always fun and stressful at the same time. There's so many different options and it sometimes feels like you're in a never ending loop of comparing one sneaker pair to  another.  I recently was in the running sneaker hunt for a good couple of months. This is mainly because I couldn't find a shoe that I absolutely loved and had great support. Since I have a flat foot, support is massively important to me -  if I can feel the ground I don't want it!

I usually stick to buying Nike's but decided to change this time around because of how they treated Allyson Felix and other runners/athletes when they became pregnant and started a family. So, thought this was the perfect time to see what other sneaker companies are out there. Nike is pretty dominant so of course they would be my first option but while on this search for the one™ I came across a lot of different brands I either haven't heard of or didn't delve into at all. 

So, what are some quick questions I ask myself when deciding if it's time for a new pair?

How much mileage have you put on them?

According to my Adidas Running App 315 miles, and according to several articles online 300-500 miles should be the amount of mileage you put on a pair of running sneakers. A good tip is input your shoe on your Nike Running App/Adidas Running app the second you buy them and start running with them so the app you're using can track the mileage on them. Depending on where you're running - treadmill, indoor track, outdoor track, road running - you may have to purchase a new running sneaker once you hit around 300 or nearer to 500 miles.

How's the support on the bottom?

Chances are your calves might let you know it's time for a new pair before you remember to check your mileage.

Road Runners/Outdoor runners: Around the 300 mile mark check the support of your sneakers. You're going on a lot of different types of terrains/inclines. When you first get new sneakers, the grip/pattern on the bottom is very prominent. As you keep running with your sneakers, that grip starts to flatten in a way and soon the grip is thinned down.

If you can quite literally feel the ground as you're running, it's time for a new pair.

Indoor Runners: You may have a bit more time with your sneakers, nearer to 400 miles due to not running on different terrains.

The support and grip on my sneakers were very worn out, to the point where on the top/mid food section of my sneaker started to get so thin that it started to look like there were going to be holes on the bottom soon. So, I took that as my cue to look for a new pair!

Sahara stepping in blue nike sneakers

Do you have any pain when you're running?

This goes back to your support. Remember how I said your calves may let you know it's time for a new pair before you check your mileage? That would be because since running is a high impact sport, when your shoes lose their cushioning you may feel muscle fatigue and pain either in your shins, or your knees.

The one thing I love about running is that it's all YOU! By that I mean, you're not depending on the mechanics of a bike as cyclers do - you're depending on your legs going one step in front of the other. Your foot is directly hitting the ground to go faster.

I've gotten shin splits before for not swapping my previous shoe out in time, so thankfully this time around it didn't come to shin splints!

IF: You've run a good amount of miles on your shoes, feel minor pain/discomfort while you're running and/or the support on your shoe isn't that great anymore - it's time to get a new pair.

Where to Get Running Sneakers

As I mentioned, I ended up comparing a lot of different shoe brands, thought to add a small list of companies I was debating between: Adidas, Newton Running, Brooks Running, On Running, New Balance, Asics and Under Armour.

I will be mentioning where I did get my new running sneakers from (the shoes pictured above are my old ones that I always ran with) in the form of a review to help anyone out if they're looking at the brand I ended up sticking to. You may be wondering what the brand is, and I'll give you a hint, it's one of the companies from the list! Take a guess?

When was the last time you bought new running sneakers?

sahara with her eyes clothes because sun is shinning in her eyes

I've been going over this idea a lot, mainly because I've experienced a lot in a field that professionally speaking (office life) I have yet to enter. I mention here and there about my freelance/temp work that I do, and a bit of the struggle it's been to enter my field professionally, from hoping to find my wave soon to not wanting to fit into a box that companies want me to come in.

Oftentimes I think I'm not doing enough month-month tech-wise, so this is where this tech diary idea came from. My blog is technically speaking a very public diary filled with fitness tips, self-reflections and history crash courses that probably show I'm always curious- the start of quality history tea crash courses was actually because I didn't want to forget the history of the paperclip after writing a thread about it on Twitter.

I've learned a lot this past year from freelance work and through attending tech events, and I wanted some way to document what I've been going through as well as help others with some things I've learned along the way. So, let's get started with this tech diary.

Months ago I attended a free event being given by a coding bootcamp.

The event was marketed to help put your best forward to get that first Software Engineering job. I attended because I was curious - there's always room to learn and fine tune whatever I'm doing in my job search. Up until this point, a lot of my rejection emails are either because I'm not technical enough or because I don't have enough experience. So the person giving the event, about mid-way through, said that when companies say that in their emails they're not actually being truthful.

Now I was curious, that was what every rejection email I was receiving said: We went with other candidates who more closely align with the years of experience, we went with someone with more technical ability etc.

"What they mean is that you're not a good cultural fit."

As the only hijab-wearing minority person sitting at the event, I felt people look over to me for a quick second. And I just remember thinking: Where does that leave me?

It's no lie that I stick out in a sea of white people attending these events. I was once at an event relating to sensors and motion, and I asked an event organizer about the sensors. Apparently I was the only person to guess correctly the type of sensor being used. For this same event, I was the first to arrive for it. After 20 minutes or so the regular tech bros arrived and the event organizers focused on them - asked them what they coded in etc. Apparently they didn't code at all and were just starting out, I wasn't asked what I coded in.

sahara standing with a hand up
my reaction to basically everything in life

A lot of tech events have alcohol as the main event.

So this goes back to the cultural fit phrasing. I don't drink for religious reasons (I have nothing against people who do drink, live your best life!). Anytime I'm applying, I notice that as part of the perks of working at a place drinking is always mentioned - happy hour, fully stocked beer in the fridge, Friday night drinks.

When it comes to tech events, some usually end with beer. I usually take this as my cue to leave and say goodbye to whoever I'm chatting with- that's usually met with hello this is the time to socialize where are YOU going?

Yes, live your best life drinking but it's not an environment I am comfortable being in and I won't put aside my discomfort for your comfort.

I'll tick every box on the requirements and still get a rejection letter, at least now I know the actual reason why.

I know that some companies use Artificial Intelligence to screen though names and only pass white-sounding ones through. My name funnily enough isn't even Arabic though, minus it being the name of a desert.  But it also isn't as white sounding as the name Sarah. So I'm not really sure where my name falls in the artificial intelligence side of things.

I get along well with people during phone interviews, some even mention that they'll be moving me to the next step only to ghost me after the call and never respond to emails. One thing I think a lot of is the new generation of tech, many of them young girls being encouraged to code. I'm all for encouraging just about anyone to code, but the tech industry is broken and the issue? Those in charge don't realize it's broken because it's working just fine for them.

sahara half smiling with the sun in her eyes
the sun was blinding me do you know how hard it was to take this pic without squinting

The tech world in some ways is similar to that of the world Daenerys Targaryen lived through in Game of Thrones.

It's a wheel that spins and is controlled by people who tick the stereotypical software engineering box. To them the wheel is working fine. The wheel may be spinning, but it is a broken wheel. Tech isn't so welcoming to 'other' - those who don't fit in the stereotype software engineers of the past always came in.

My sister and I recently did a guest post over on Instagram (fun fact: we both graduated with our bachelors in Computer Science together), we mentioned tech is especially in need of diversity as well as an environment that is welcoming of it. Anyone can learn how to code, but with an environment that does not welcome everyone the wheel spins on while brilliant minds believe the rejections telling them they aren't enough for this field.

I've been thinking recently of innovation in tech - the latest iPhone for example. There wasn't really anything completely new, minus three cameras instead of one, something Samsung phones had long before. It's just a new look masked over what's already been done before. I think this shows a lot about the tech industry. We haven't had, unless I haven't been paying attention, any massive tech innovation as of recent and I have a feeling I know why that is. 

Those who can take tech to new heights and change technology as we know it get sent not technical enough emails - the result? Innovation is practically submerged underwater. How many brilliant minds have left the field before they even entered it because they were told they weren't enough? The tech industry wheel may be spinning but soon (I'm hoping soon, that is) those with a seat at the table will realize that the spark of creativity that drives technology is no longer there.

sahara smiling in photo
this right here is a mama approved photo™

How can those with a seat at the table create something for a world that they themselves are so far removed from?

Tech isn't the only industry with this issue, though. Gatekeepers are alive and thriving in every field. Let's take Nabela Noor, for example. She's a Bangledeshi-American Plus Sized Muslim woman who is a YouTuber and CEO of her own inclusive clothing line, Zeba. She recently released a collection with Elf Cosmetics and mentioned in an Instagram post a lot of things that I relate to as a software engineer trying to break into an industry that gatekeepers are thriving in.

She mentioned that she felt like an outsider through her adolescence and that this collaboration was not one that she imagined for 'a girl like me'. What we see around us is what we ingest - if we don't see someone who we can relate to in our chosen fields we have two options: Leave the field or become the person you were looking to relate to.

I can probably write a whole blog post on the makeup industry and how it's inclusiveness is not really inclusive at all, quite like the tech industry to be honest. There's always that one minority person part of a team or at an event so the company can safely say they are inclusive and diversity is important to them.  I don't think I'll ever forget attending an all white panel and a black woman in the audience mentioning her struggles in the field and the women saying I think our company is very diverse. Nabela wrote this one line that I really related to: We can be in a spotlight shinning as we are, and the words of the people from our past will never hold the power over our future.

You don't have to change the person you are for a company that does not deserve you.

This is something my crochet class tells me all the time whenever I update them on my job search. And it's true. If they don't accept my brain with the hijab wrapped about my head that comes along with it, then they don't deserve me at all and aren't worthy of my time.

Let's talk about the sports industry while we're at it. And no, I'm not going to talk about running because there actually isn't a hijab wearing runner representing any country at this present moment and time at championship races (ya girl will open the gates if someone doesn't make it there before me.) but Team USA does have Dalilah Muhammad who specializes in the 400M Hurdles. She's amazing and a huge inspiration for me. There may not be a hijab wearing runner out there but that doesn't mean there isn't a muslim runner out there.

Okay, I know I said I wasn't going to talk about running but anyways! Let's talk ice. Let's talk Zahra Lari.  Zahra Lari is a figure skater for the Emirates, and there's one quote that she included on an Instagram post that resonated with the way I live each day and breathe through rejection emails: Be confident in yourself and believe that you're a winner. Your self-confidence will make you unstoppable.

Sahara laughing
laughing = the best medicine there is

I used to be a lot more confident in myself and my abilities before rejection emails.

And I'm trying to find the confident Sahara that I lost along the way. When you're confident, and know you bring value to any table, rejections don't really have any weight because it's their loss for not seeing the brilliance there inside you. When they do come to their senses and see the potential you've always had months/years later it will be them emailing you for your time, not the other way around.

I'm going to be honest, I've thought of leaving tech completely. At the time of writing this, I am thinking of a Plan B that doesn't involve tech. I have friends who graduated with Biomedical Engineering and Civil Engineering Degrees, they can't find jobs because they are met with 'not enough experience'. 

One day, those with a seat at the table will realize their real life Iron Man is no longer in the field because gatekeepers worked hard at the bottom tier to push them out before they even entered, they'll realize massive breakthroughs in prosthetic limbs lies in the brain of the Biomedical Engineer that they turned away, and they'll realize the problem they can't solve with their building layout lies in the mind of the Civil Engineer who changed careers.

I may not be a good cultural fit for companies, from the way I wrap my scarf to not drinking for religious reasons, but changing the person I am for a job isn't an option.

If you're also in the same boat in your field, whether that be as a software engineer, a digital marketer, an interior designer etc. here's my piece of advice to keep going after those opportunities: Be so good at what you do that you can't be ignored.

Your respective fields will wonder why innovation has suddenly gone dry not realizing that their inherent biases is to blame for their downfall. And you won't be there to pick up the pieces.

How was the journey of breaking into your field professionally? How many hurdles did you have to jump?