I had the chance to attend a Latinvision conference this past Thursday where the theme was “Marketing to Latinas” (in another post I will tell you all about the conference).
As I was listening to one of the panelists; Leylha Ahuile, Senior Analyst of Multicultural Reports at Mintel talk about the importance of Latinas, their buying power, their successes and overview of their importance in the Latino market…I was captivated by a specific statistic – From 1996-2006 Latina college graduates has increased by 222%, superseding that of Latinos! Wow, I thought that was fantastic news and only hope it continues to increase.
I’m not here to talk about the importance of education and lecture you about how you should finish school…but as wonderful as that statistic sounds there are still only about 12.6% of Latinas that have graduated college in the U.S. I know life is hard, things get in the way, family takes priority but as the first in my immediate family to graduate college I thought I could take this opportunity to share 4 simple tips that have helped me tremendously along the way, with the hope that they will also help you.
1. Life is about who you know – Go network! Haven’t you noticed this is the reason sorority’s and fraternity’s exist in college? Sure there’s a ton of parties and these are friends that make you feel less awkward and provide for great company and experiences while you’re in school (sometimes away from loved ones)…but the most important part of these organizations is the long-lasting bond – you have a brotherhood/sisterhood for life and this translates to the real world (unfortunately when I was going to college I didn’t get that and felt I didn’t need to pay to have friends). When the booze is over and everyone has careers and you’re faced with getting a real job…how do you think some kids get into great companies, and positions in the U.S.? It’s all about who you know…whether it’s through nepotism or a favor these people will always have the upper hand and all it took was to build a relationship while in school. So, all I’m saying is…translate this to your day-to-day, join a club, an organization, a cause, and network with people, exchange contact information and most importantly make sure your voice is heard. Don’t be shy, show them you have brains and they will not only respect you for that but most importantly they will remember you!
2. Learn to write well! Out of all the subjects you could possibly study in school the most important has got to be the written word. This has got to be the most basic learning skill and yet some 30 million adults have “below basic” skills in prose where they can’t write a complete sentence without grammatical errors, misspellings or have a complete thought. You might think only journalists, lawyers, authors, people who write press releases are the ones who need to write well…but really? If you haven’t noticed already all the digital world that surrounds us today revolves around writing…from social networking sites, twitter, blogs, texting, emails…it’s all about writing! And this translates into your everyday when writing an important document for your boss, for your kids’ school, or even when writing your resume. When you write, you have the opportunity of showing people your distinct personality…whether you are funny or clever you can take people on a fun journey with a ton of words…but you need to write well first. Don’t be scared, it takes practice (I’m practicing everyday with this blog) but this can only help you advance and excel in life.
3. Learn to be a good communicator – Beyond the written word, there is nothing better than extending this skill to the way you speak. Whether it’s for one person or a hundred people, whether it’s for your child or spouse or to the President. The best communicators know how to tell good stories and people stop to listen. This is the reason we love artists that tell great stories with their lyrics but criticize those who fail to inspire us. A good communicator exudes confidence and takes this skill to every aspect of their personal lives. This isn’t just for that perfect interview or that presentation you had to do for work…I’m talking about your day-to-day conversations with your loved ones. How do you think marriages survive? It’s all about communicating.
4. Get an attitude adjustment – So you might be a passionate, opinionated Latina but there are ways to not come off as too aggressive, intense or even annoying. Think about it, the majority of our time we either spend it at work or in school and we’re dealing with the same people everyday. Why not have a good attitude? Corporate America and many other businesses in the U.S. prefer to hire someone they will get along with before hiring the smartest person. When you have a good attitude, people feel it, it becomes part of the energy you radiate to others and this energy only makes more people want to be around you. We already have enough bad things happening in this world for you to add more to it. Don’t get me wrong, everyone has their days, but really? Why do you need to share this negative energy with everyone, all the time? This doesn’t get you anywhere and only closes doors.
These seem like basic simple tips you probably already knew but try to put them into practice and you’ll see they are life changing. I’m serious. Good luck Latinas, there’s a whole world out there that needs us in the mix and using these tips can only help us be better and make a difference.