I was the first woman in my family to go to college and pursue a career. Like so many young Latinas, I didn't have a role model who could show me how to succeed in the workforce. 

However, my mom and abuela instilled 4 key principles that helped me create a good foundation in building a good career:

  1. Get a good education
  2. Aim high 
  3. Create a good image 
  4. Network

My mom would constantly say "you need to get a degree and get a job so that you don't have to depend on a man to pay for what you want!."  I graduated from college with a double major in Political Science and Spanish.  I wanted to be President of Chile but quickly realized that politics in our country meant putting your life at risk!  I worked every summer during High School although this was not common among my Latina peers at that time.  As soon as I graduated from college my abuela paid for a professional to help me create a resume (best investment ever!) and then she took me shopping for my first career outfits to make sure I portrayed the right image.  My first job out of college came as a result of a family connection.  To this day I tell young Latinas "just ask someone you know to open the door and the rest is up to you."

These 4 key principles still apply 25+ years since I started my career.  Higher education still gives you access to better-paying jobs; aiming high should be instilled at a young age ; the importance of building and giving off a good image is even more apparent now.  I have built a career on building, launching, marketing and selling brands and clearly understand that your personal brand is crucial in determining your success.  The way you dress, the way you speak and the way you position yourself visually and on paper are extremely important.  Invest time and money if necessary in building a great resume.  And if you have someone who has succeeded in the workforce then turn to them for help! 

My final tip, network, is also extremely important.  But I've realized that nurturing existing relationships is as important as building new ones.  Don't burn bridges by asking for favors but never returning them; don't stop reaching out to old contacts no matter where they may be and make sure you are always responsive when someone reaches out.  Also, make sure you get out of your comfort zone.  Latinos tend to turn to amigos, relatives and those who they work with, expand your network beyond these boundaries!  

LinkedIn has become an invaluable resource for any professional.  Learn about how you can optimize your profile and make sure you get a few key people from your network to write recommendations.  My 18-year old daughter already has a profile on LinkedIn and she has started to build her network. Finally, when you do succeed, please promise to make time to give other Latinas who are getting started the advice they need to succeed. 
 

 

Add Comment What are YOUR most valuable tips on building a successful career?
About the author
Lucia, Co-founder and EVP of MamásLatinas, has led Hispanic media brands such as Univision's Galavision, MTV tr3s and People en Español. When Lucia is not traveling for work or in her office in NYC, she's at home with her husband and two children in New Rochelle, New York. 

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