We had Latin American speakers who worked at companies from Facebook to Boeing. What they did was give us scholars tips on how to launch our careers and stay successful in them. I think one of the messages I got from the conference was to put myself out there and connect with people. I think I can speak for a lot (but not all) of Latin American students when I say that it can be hard to show ourselves off, considering we come from humble backgrounds. However, it is important to be confident, without coming off as arrogant. I met so many people at the conference, and all of them go to prestigious universities. While sometimes we feel like we don’t belong, we do. We worked twice as hard to get where we are, and we’ll work even harder to get to where we want to be.
Another message I got is there is a myth that you have to pretend to be someone else to get a job. If you are excited to interview for your dream job, be enthusiastic. Be passionate. Show the people who are interviewing you that you want this job like no one else does. Millennials want to have a job that pays good money, but they would also prefer to like what they do. However, millennials will not get anywhere, unless they show they want the job more than those who are competing against them. By selling yourself, preparing yourself, and being self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses, you will get that job you want.
Connecting with people and looking for opportunities are both essential as well. The American Dream that we’ve all been told to believe, that if you work hard you’ll earn the life you want, isn’t true. While working hard is important, there is more. Supply the work you’ve done with certifications and join organizations that pertain to your career interests. Look for people that work in your preferred industry and stay in the loop on news in said industry. LinkedIn is a great place to do both; it’s how I got my job with the Student Success Agency. Be curious and show off the talents that got you the job to advance in the workplace. A fun fact is that 80% of open positions are not advertised. That means 4 in 5 jobs need to be inquired about to get information. One of the HSF staff members, Ruth Castillo, once said, “You have to A-S-K to G-E-T,” and it’s true.
I’ll end this post with 2 challenges. I’ve always hated public speaking, even when I gave a speech at my high school graduation. However, I got up and sang part of “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt in front of the other scholars. My first challenge is to find 1 way to fight a weakness, whatever it may be. My second is an extension of a challenge issued by HSF CEO Fidel Vargas. He challenged us to meet with our university president, and I am in the process of securing that meeting. You don’t have to do this one, but if you’re up for it, look for something you want to improve on your campus, and talk to your university president. Maybe you guys decide to just drink coffee or tea together, that’s fine. Focus on getting that meeting, and let me know how it goes!
Remember, you are all amazing people and if no one believes in you, you have a believer in me.
-- Ricardo Canelo