From Quitting Corporate Jobs to Building Startup Teams, These 5 Latinas Reveal Their Boldest Career Moments
I’ll never forget when I sat down with my former manager to inform her I was leaving the company for a higher-paying position, which was similar to one she once told me I was unqualified for. And I believed her.
If I’m honest, I was intimidated by her. She was a young, successful woman of color who I thought would be an ally. And while she didn’t assist in the way I wanted her to, her actions drove me to become an outspoken and confident woman.
Having a conversation with her and seeing her finally realizing my worth (even if I had to spell it out for her) was my boldest career move. Thanks to her doubting me, I landed a job at a global company with a substantial salary increase. It’s tough to advocate for yourself early in your career because of the lack of experience, but it’s crucial to learn the lessons others have to share.
And in honor of International Women’s Day (March 8), we asked five Latinas to reveal their boldest career moments, in their own words.
When I quit, I was so nervous because I’ve always followed the traditional path: I went to college, got a stable job, and paid off my student loans. I’ve never taken big risks. But with the rise of my account, I knew my voice was needed in our community, so I took a leap of faith to pursue my true passion of teaching financial education and career navigation to young adults.
Since quitting, I’ve been a speaker at FinCon 2021. I’ve gotten sponsored by Fidelity, TurboTax, and Credit Karma. I’ve been selected to participate in inaugural creator incubator programs with TikTok and LinkedIn, and I’ve been featured in The New York Times. I’ve also replaced my annual corporate salary in only seven months — and the best part is it’s doing what I love. I gave myself permission to move from my “zone of excellence” to my “zone of genius.”
As an influencer and financial educator, I’m using my natural talents to help educate an underserved community. Over the last couple of years, I’ve paid off my debt and saved up 14 months of living expenses. Building that financial security for myself empowered me to make this big career leap. I hope my story encourages any aspiring Latinx to make bold career moves and pursue their passion. — As told to mitú by Giovanna Gonzalez, @TheFirstGenMentor.
2. I quit my job as a critical care registered nurse to create a children’s fashion label celebrating la cultura.
I worked in a pediatric intensive care unit when I met and married my Korean husband and started having kids. As a stress reliever from my job, I sewed.
I sewed with intention by using fabrics depicting our rich multicultural heritage and sewed them into fun, everyday clothes. Folks stopped me on the street and wanted to know where I bought them. We’d get to talking about the fabric and our cultures when a light bulb went off. The clothes were conversation starters and an invitation to share our culture.
After taking orders and selling out at Farmers Markets, I realized I was onto something. I would use fashion as my vehicle to talk about culture, diversity, and inclusion.
And so, my boldest moment was leaving the stability of 15 years as a critical care registered nurse to pursue the unpredictable world of starting my own children’s fashion label, Mixed Up Clothing. I took a small business class, emptied my 401K, quit my job, and took a huge leap of faith.
Within two years, I appeared on NBC’s Today Show and appeared in Latina Magazine, and The Real talk show a year after that. Now, my clothes are launching at Macy’s next month. — As told to mitú by Sonia Smith Kang, founder of @mixedupclothing.
3. I experienced burnout as a therapist, so started my private practice.
To become a therapist takes many years of hard work and dedication. [To practice, requirements include] an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree, and 3,000 internship hours [many of those hours are] free and underpaid therapy.
I became licensed in 2019, right after having my second child. Once licensed, I continued to work at my agency job. Unfortunately, many employees at agencies have high caseloads and are understaffed. I was burnt out and not doing what I preached. So, I decided I wanted a change.
I took a leap of faith to start my private practice, Monarca Therapy, focusing on maternal mental health and women empowerment. I created a space to help women transform from their cocoons and evolve into their own monarca butterfly.
I balanced motherhood and my full-time job and learned about the business world while developing my private practice on the side. I know many therapists who want to open up their own private practice; my piece of advice would be to start small and go from there — one step at a time. Women are chingonas poderosas that can accomplish anything they put their minds to with the proper support. This is why therapy is so essential. — As told to mitú by Mary G. Sanchez, licensed marriage and family therapist and first-generation Latina, @monarcatherapy.
4. I personally reached out to a staffer from a company I admired so that my team would be the best in the business.
[As a co-founder], my goal at Swoon is to consistently hire the best in the business, creative thinkers, and future-forward minds. We’re a startup and in our fourth year of business, so we’re actively hiring and growing as a team, but posting job listings often do not result in the group of candidates you’re looking for. These kinds of leaders are, of course, often gainfully employed already.
So, for our most recent hire, I looked at a company I admire and decided to cold outreach to a staffer to see if we could get her on board. Luckily, after an interview process and her learning about our female-founded brand, she was in. I think the personal outreach was also an appreciated added touch that helped humanize the process, a piece of hiring that’s often outsourced to automated listings and outreach. This move was bold to reach out cold, but she’s been an incredible addition to our team. We would not have found her from a job listing. Always go for what you actually want, it will pay off in spades.— As told to mitú by Cristina Ros Blankfein, co-founder of Swoon.
5. I quit my engineering career to become a full-time personal finance expert and entrepreneur.
I was 25, dealing with a quarter-life crisis and working a job I hated. Then, one day in 2014, I walked into work and got fired. Having been fired for the first time, I was shocked, but I also realized that maybe this was the career break I needed to rediscover my purpose.
I’d always been passionate about food and cooking and toyed with the idea of quitting my job to go to culinary school, but I wanted to build a career that allowed me to be location-independent. This introduced me to the world of blogging. So I dove headfirst into learning everything and created my Latin food blog, Delish D’Lites.
From 2014 to 2020, I focused on building my side hustle and job hopped for higher salaries to have more disposable income. Over time, my food blog started earning several thousand dollars a month, which helped me pay off over $39,000 of student loans in 17 months and reach financial independence.
After growing my food blog to over $100,000 in annual income, I made the boldest career move by quitting my job in 2021.
Things I learned along the way:
1. Never choose to start a business just to make money because the reality is that you won’t make anything at first. Instead, choose something that you can see yourself doing long-term.
2. Invest in growing your skill sets. I’m always listening to podcasts, reading books, and investing in workshops or courses to expand my knowledge.
3. Work on your mindset. It took me seven years to grow my business and surpass my full-time income. Part of that was because I doubted myself. So I started focusing a lot on personal development and mindset work, and it allowed me to expand my capacity for risk.
— As told to mitú by Jannese Torres-Rodriguez, personal finance expert and entreprenuer.
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