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How to Build Your Community of Latina Leaders for Career Growth

By: Wandy Felicita Ortiz

Ready to surround yourself with Latina leaders who lift you up? Let’s explore how building your own community can banish loneliness and unlock your potential. Here, we’ll show you how to make it happen!

In today’s job market, it can feel hard to find a new role, let alone one that fits your career vision or matches your personal style. Considering that Latinas make up only 17% of the female labor force in the U.S., when we crunch the numbers it seems like we’ve got some stiff competition, amigas. 

Although the odds may be stacked against us as we try to dominate the female-led workforce, we don’t have to be each other’s “competition” in the dog-eat-dog way the American Dream has conditioned us to believe. Self-starting, pulling oneself up by the bootstraps (a controversial notion these days), and hyper-independence are uniquely Western ideas that, for those of us who come from more communal and enmeshed cultural backgrounds, can seem foreign and even difficult to emulate in career-pathing.

Lonely In Your Latinidad At Work? You’re Not Alone

I speak about these struggles from experience–growing up, I was often the only woman and the only Latina in many classes, conferences, and workplaces who had an affinity for my trade: writing. Although I was proud of myself, I felt like I couldn’t be myself, or at least be myself in ways that others could appreciate.

That isolation and lack of identity are common–76% of Latinos feel that disconnect at work– to the point that they repress parts of their personas at work, from their appearance to their body language, and communication style. It is something I’ve done in the past to fit in with a more homogenous group. 

Even so, for many years I felt like I was missing out on the interpersonal connection that makes moments like nailing that job interview so memorable–that amiga that cheers you on and feels like your success is something to celebrate just as much as her own. When it came time to turn to mentors and role models or ask for advice on how to get the big editorial gig or the next promotion, the people I’ve turned to were incredibly helpful, generous with their time, and knowledgeable. To this end, there are former managers and coworkers that I still turn to every week for insights on both work and life.

I still wished that I could turn to a friend who wanted to bring me alongside them in the work-life journey, though. I didn’t have the experience for so long–until I became that person for other Latinas in business. Now, I help others build meaningful connections in the workplace that supersede individualism and instead focus on integrated skill-building and long-term networking.

Here are my tips for personal development, career growth, and how to build your community of Latina leaders:

Self-Reflect. Do You Like The ‘You’ You Are At Work?

We’ve all been there, trudging through that one job we can only describe as “soul-sucking.” Whether it is for the pay, benefits, convenience, or the simple fact that life can be exhausting and job searching is a full-time job, sometimes where we end up isn’t where we ought to be. When jobs are a mismatch things can get problematic, turning you into a disgruntled employee instead of an inspired and motivated member of your team.

Research shows that employees with low job satisfaction are more likely to have lower self-esteem, emotional burnout, and higher levels of depression and anxiety. Job dissatisfaction early in a career can even lead to mental and physical health issues, such as depression, sleep problems, and excessive worry. If you’re itching to send in that letter of resignation, consider why–is it your job role, your coworkers, or something else? If you can identify the issue or roadblock at hand, that’s half the battle. The next step would be thinking about aspects of your current role that you enjoy, and how you could increase those moments through a new position.  
Once you know who you are it will be much easier to build a community around your needs.

Share The Want, The Word–And The Wealth

Something good happening to you at work, or an opportunity arises where you could make that big career leap you’ve been aspiring to? Studies show that sharing good news amplifies its likelihood within communities and individual lives. If your amigas know what you’re on the lookout for, where you’re at in the process, and even where they can get involved to help support you, there is a better chance that you’ll attain the goal with support than on your own.

Now, let’s say you don’t have that friend you can turn to–where do you find them? In the Internet age, your next biggest support could be right under your nose, or in your following! That influencer you’re always watching, that small business whose products you die-hard support, or that one chica who is at every conference but you only connect on LinkedIn, each of these women could be a great source of support! Aside from sliding into the DMs (the worst anyone could ever say is no!), you can also look up local Latina networking groups, and pay-to-play organizations, or even start your own online!

Get Vulnerable, And Stay Secure In Yourself 

While saying–or writing out loud–that you need support or are looking to build community can feel like shameless self-promotion, the reality de la vida is that nobody is going to know what you’re looking for or what you need until you say it. Nobody is a mind reader–because if everyone was, we’d all be exactly where we wanted to be in work and life, 24/7! The best way to attract like-minded people is to let them know who you are, what you do, and what you like. And if somebody else is afraid to be that trailblazer, well, then you’re now the person who can lead the pack! 

About the author: Wandy Felicita Ortiz

Cathy-Nuestro-Stories-Writer-Image-200x275

I am a trilingual writer and content analyst with a passion for creating and sharing engaging stories across platforms and audiences. I have over ten years of experience as a freelance digital media content creator and copyeditor, working with clients and outlets such as Fortune Magazine, Oprah Magazine, Penguin Random House, Reader's Digest, Button Poetry Publishing, and Grammy-nominated artist Mike Posner. I have also contributed to various online publications, including Fierce by Mítu, Huffington Post, Refinery29 and Yahoo, covering topics such as culture, education, entertainment, politics, science and socioeconomics.

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