Present Yourself Alumna Interview: Rachael Aluko

One of the main reasons we wanted to offer our 8-week Present Yourself course as an online program was to make it more accessible to our entire global community, allowing participants to learn on their own time while still having the support and feedback of a live cohort. The online format opened up the possibility of offering expertise from a variety of experts and guest speakers in our community. 

We asked alumni for feedback on the topics and structure throughout the course and what they found most useful upon finishing. Here is what one alumni had to say in her own words – meet Rachael!

Rachael is a Product designer based in Lagos, Nigeria. Before Present Yourself, her speaking experience mainly consisted of presenting in teams at work and to stakeholders in her company. She started Present Yourself hoping to expand her experience outside of her current role

WTD: What were your goals for public speaking heading into the course? What kind of speaking are you most interested in?

Rachael: The speaking I’d done was just presenting in teams or presenting to stakeholders in my company. My speaking goals are not just limited to company presentations, which I do right now. I also want to speak in conferences. I want to be able to speak to people about tech, about design, and especially about being a black woman in design. And how to navigate your whole design career and just how to start and get things rolling. Those are my goals.

WTD: Heading into Present Yourself, what were you most excited about? What made you commit?

Rachael: I’m part of a community called She Designs and somebody dropped the link in that community. And I was like, “Do I want to try this out?” So I just applied to it and I was lucky to get a scholarship. I was really very excited about it but it was a very last minute thing and I didn’t expect anything.

One thing that was important for me to learn when I came into the class was speaking with confidence and having that courage to come out to speak. And knowing that [my] voice is important, no matter what stage [I’m] at.

WTD: What part of the course was most useful to you?

Rachael: Something that particularly stood out to me during the course was this particular week where we had to look through some speakers – we had snippets from them. And there was this particular speaker [who] had a future that stood out to me – she was bold, she’s black – and she mentioned something about, “Whatever stage you’re at next, don’t be shy to speak up.” Like, your voice is needed at whatever stage you’re at – at stage zero and at stage one – [people] need to hear your voice. And that really got me thinking because, [I’ve thought], “I don’t have a lot to offer yet, I just need to be more of an expert or I just need to advance more before I start speaking.” But that really spoke to me – the sense that it took me a while to get to this stage so why not just help people that are trying to get to the stage where I’m at right now? That;s something that’s stayed with me.

I absolutely loved when we would come back together [in live sessions] and would have exercises. I really enjoyed the exercises, especially because I got to meet different women from all over the world from different backgrounds. I got to share different design topics and give feedback on whatever my partner was doing at that point in time. That was very, very insightful for me.

WTD: How do you feel the tools you learned in the course set you up to achieve your goals?

Rachael: It made me a bit more bold. It made me more courageous. I have a speaking event and I’m really excited about it. It just popped into my head that I should speak to somebody about these things…I’m getting my slides ready to start speaking. I’m a bit nervous  but I’m excited. 

The good thing is that Women Talk Design’s Present Yourself prepared me on how to go from start to finish in creating presentations – knowing your audience, knowing how to form your slides and just every basic thing you need to know and more about speaking.

I’ve [also] been in touch with one of the [other alums] which is really exciting – to be able to meet somebody in the program and have some sort of continuity after.

WTD: Do you have any advice for others taking the course?

Rachael: Practice a lot. And be bold. Once you get it done once, you realize it’s not as hard as you thought it was. So just practice a lot and just do it. Just get it done – it sounds like a cliche, but really it does work.

Read through your lessons. It helps you interact and prepare for what will happen when everybody convenes. You don’t have to read through everything in one stretch – you can read it in bits until you can finish it up. Also, you can find role models and mentors and all of the people that give snippets during the lessons.

Thank you Rachel for diving into Present Yourself and for sharing your experience with us! We’re so glad to have you as part of our community and can’t wait to see what’s next!

We still have two more Present Yourself Cohorts scheduled for 2022! If you’ve been thinking about moving your speaking career forward or taking your presenting skills to the next level, sign up to know when enrollment opens. We also have resources available to ask your employer for reimbursement and advice on how to prepare and get the most out of the program. 

Have questions? Reach out to us anytime via our website or social and we’ll be happy to answer them!

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