Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor described it best when she said that as a Latina “you have to work harder.” But just like her, you can persevere and disprove naysayers. From using your unique upbringing to learning new skills, here are nine ways you can be a kick-ass Latina at work:
1. Take Advantage of Your Resources
Take Advantage of Your Resources
If you have a job, this means you should continue to network. You see your co-workers all the time, and you should take the time to get to know them. It’ll make work more enjoyable, but it can also be useful. If any of them ever have new opportunities, you’ll have a bigger chance of being considered for the position. If you’re looking for another job or any job, look into Latino-oriented career sites and networks, including college job boards and specific industry organizations (like National Association of Hispanic Journalists.) These sites and organizations can help you sort jobs by specific qualifications, such as language preferences and also help you to connect with others you wouldn’t normally meet. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who can serve as mentors.
2. Flaunt Your Language Skills
Flaunt Your Language Skills
Did you know that in 43 states in America, Spanish is the second-most spoken language? There are more than 37 million speakers in the United States now, and the number is only expected to rise, notes Pew Research Center. By 2020, U.S. Census Bureau demographers projected a number of 39 million to 43 million Spanish speakers, proving that Spanish is useful. It’s also only going to get more importante. You possess a valuable skill, so use it!
3. Be Flexible
Sometimes we are too hard on ourselves, and we think that our careers should be further along than they are. But many people experience careers as roller coasters, instead of the straight line of progression they expect. That’s when you have to get creative. Amanda Abella, an online business coach for millennials who previously worked as a recruiter for Fortune 500 companies, tells us that flexibility should be a priority. “In this economy, flexibility is key, and there are many ways to get to the same end goal. Besides, flexibility may allow you to see an even better idea than what you had in mind for yourself. This will also help you figure out how your previous skills can be applied creatively for a job or promotion.” What does this mean exactly? That your mami was right: everything will work out in the end. Jump at new opportunities and always be learning something new.
4. Own Your Latina Experience
Own Your Latina Experience
There’s a reason that companies are targeting Latinos. By 2017, Latinos will make up 11 percent of the purchasing power, which means more recognition for Latinos’ voices. How are you supposed to sell to a group you don’t understand? It’s through people like you. This isn’t just for people who work in marketing, though. You can incorporate this into different types of jobs because you can prove that you can relate to and communicate with Latinos, who have shown to be very discerning consumers. They are loyal to brands that represent and empower them, so you can use your experience as a Latina to become an important member of your team, regardless of your field.
5. Ask for What You Want
Ask for What You Want
If you want more responsibility, a raise or another opportunity, ask for it. You can’t expect others to know what you want. And when you ask for something, don’t be shy about it. Just be direct. You will sound more confident, and while you are not guaranteed to get it, you will show others how passionate you are. As Margie Warrell says in Stop Playing Safe, “Think about what your ideal outcome would be and then confidently, courageously, ask for it. Not in an entitled way. Not in an aggressive way. But in a way that conveys that you know your worth.”
6. Become an Expert
Become an Expert
Master your job. Look to others to learn what makes them good at their jobs, and don’t forget to ask questions along the way, says Women 2.0. Another way you can become an expert is to look at what your company is missing. It can be a new way of interacting with people or applying the latest technology. Learn how to succeed in this new area, and you can become the go-to person. “Keeping up on trends, but more importantly, being able to apply those trends to your organization, demonstrates your understanding of its place within the industry,” says Lucy Leske, Vice President and Co-Director of executive search firm, Witt/Kieffer. This has the added benefit of letting you learn a new skill that you can use later on in your career and life.
7. Don’t Worry About Stereotypes
Don’t Worry About Stereotypes
Latinas are a very diverse group when it comes to looks, experiences and skills. So do not pay attention to stereotypes that could negatively affect your career outlook. Things like running on “Latino time” or lacking initiative are misconceptions that some people have. “You get tested by people with biases and preconceptions, and it reflects poorly on them,” said Sandra Hernandez, CEO of San Francisco Foundation. “It’s always been clear to me that you have to be a little better and work a little harder.” But really, what better way to show that you are a professional than by being the hardest worker in your office?
8. Give Yourself a Break
Give Yourself a Break
You can’t work all the time. It’s just not possible. This is not to say that you shouldn’t work hard, but you should give yourself a break. Gallup said that about 70 percent of workers are disengaged from their jobs because they work too much. When you don’t take some time off, you can become stressed and sick as well. Plus, it’s hard to be inspired and solve problems when all you do is work. You need to schedule some time for yourself, so you don’t get burned out.
9. Look To Strong Latinas
Look To Strong Latinas
Your mothers, sisters and other Latinas are the perfect inspiration. They can show that you can, indeed, have it all. You can work 40 hours a week, have a family and take up a hobby. Look to these strong women as proof that you don’t have to limit your dreams. Si se puede.