Derek Mitchell

    Derek Mitchell

    Atlanta, GA
    IT Business Analyst
    Atlanta Public Schools

    Briefly describe your daily job duties.
    As a Business Analyst with Atlanta Public Schools, my job is to be a liaison between the Information Technology (IT) team and the internal department we support. My daily work to ensure that IT is meeting the department’s needs. This includes facilitating meetings, writing business requirements and working with technical teams to resolve technical issues.

    As a person who stutters, share the most challenging part of your job.
    Communication is the most important aspect of my job. Being successful as a business analyst requires understanding business operations and technical processes but also knowing how to communicate that information is most important. At times my stutter makes it difficult to clearly explain processes and concepts to my co-workers whether it’s in a meeting or a one-on-one situation.

    Did you self-disclose your stuttering during the job hiring process?
    I disclosed my stutter on the initial phone job interview and during the onsite job interviews with my current company. I made the decision to start disclosing my stutter during interviews six years ago. I realized that when I disclosed, I felt much more comfortable and didn’t have as much anxiety about my speech. This allows me to focus more on selling my experience and skills as opposed to being fluent. When I disclose, I keep it short and simple only telling the interviewer that I have a speech impediment and invite them to ask questions about it. I state it as a matter of fact and do not add any extra context if it’s not needed.

    What is your proudest moment at your current company?
    During emergencies, my company uses several methods of communicating with their employees. One system that sends out emergency communications began to have issues and caught the attention of the school superintendent. I was asked to analyze the issue and come up with a solution. When I discovered the source of the problem, I then had to present my analysis to the various departments that had been affected. It was difficult, but I was able to present the information clearly and impress my boss.

    What are your long-term career aspirations?
    A career as an author and professional speaker are my long-term goals. While writing has always been a big part of my life, speaking is very new to me. Because speaking was always difficult for me, I heavily relied on my writing to communicate in certain situations. As a result, I developed proficiency and passion for writing. Before joining Toastmasters speaking professionally was a least likely profession for me than being an astronaut. After becoming move involved in Toastmasters, I realized that as I was beating my fear of public speaking, I was also developing a love for it.

    What’s your best advice for people who stutter just entering the workplace and for those in a career striving to achieve greater success?
    My advice is to not let your stutter dictate your career path. Your stutter or level of fluency doesn’t qualify or disqualify you for a certain career path. Focus and double down on the actual skills that will make you successful in your career. There’s nothing wrong with working on your fluency but know that it will not be the determining factor for your success or failure.

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