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Aarti Munjal

Research Assistant Professor

Aurora, CO

Every time you lean in, be ready to buckle up for an adventure.

In the summer of 2011 I was partway through a PhD program, had no work experience outside of India (even though I lived in the U.S. with my husband), and I was about to turn 30. I had to apply for internships, and each time before I hit the "submit" button on an application, I had a deep fear that I simply wasn't good enough. In the midst of this constant self-doubt, I wrote to a senior research scientist in Berlin, Germany to tell him how fascinated I was with his research. Within an hour he responded suggesting a phone interview. Before I knew it, I had a research intern offer from one of the best research labs in Germany.

Before leaving for Germany I sat down with my husband and planned out how I would manage my time given everything I was juggling: the new internship, interviewing with companies back in the U.S. for full-time positions post-graduation and visiting universities around Germany to present my PhD research.

When I returned to the U.S. after the internship, I defended my dissertation and interviewed with tech companies, as well as several academic institutions. One day I got a call inviting me to interview for a postdoctoral position at the Colorado School of Public Health. During the interview something inside me screamed, "This is it! This is how I want to pursue my ambitions." I was offered the job right away and, within six months, got promoted to be a research assistant professor.

I love what I do and could not have been happier anywhere else. My job is what keeps me sane and what drives me out of bed every single morning.

In writing that email to the German researcher, I was leaning in without even knowing it. I learned about Lean In after I bought the book at the Denver International Airport while waiting to board a flight. Since then, it has been a true journey reading story after story on this website of amazing women leaning in.

My advice to every woman out there: Every time you lean in, be ready to buckle up for an adventure.

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