By: Maria Carolina Ruiz (Caro), Chief Administrator Officer of ALPFA
Editor’s Note: ALPFA Boston is the local chapter of the largest Latino professional network in the country. Its mission is to empower and develop Latino men and women as leaders of character for the nation, in every sector of the global economy. For more information visit: www.ALPFABoston.org
I was born in Boston but raised in Venezuela. When I graduated from college, I decided to move to Boston to find a job and have a fresh start as a recent graduate. My first action item was to find a job in retail to make a living while I searched for a job related to my undergraduate degree – Systems Engineer.
t may have been a combination of adjusting to the American culture and not knowing the business world in the US but during job interviews, they would ask me about my work in retail instead of my skills or bachelor’s degree. Based on this experience, I level set my expectations and applied for an entry level position where I could showcase my skills and grow within a company. A few months later, I started working as a member service representative at BCBSMA.
Early in my professional career, I learned the importance of networking. There are many ways for us to network but we don’t necessarily realize that we are networking on a daily basis. Are you part of a sports team? Book Club? Even though you may associate the word networking with your career, all of these associations are your networks.
I always try to participate in work events that will allow me to interact with people in different areas that I don’t necessarily work with on a daily basis. For example, I joined the Toastmasters’ Club at BCBSMA. This club not only helped me enhance my public speaking and leadership skills but it allowed me to meet new people throughout the company.
I also played rugby in Venezuela and in Boston. Playing this sport gave me the opportunity to meet new people and shaped me into the leader that I am today by giving me the hand on experience on leadership, team work, risk taking, gratitude and other abilities. I’ve been able to apply these skills in both my professional career and personal life. I’ve held many roles such as team captain and president, and my most recent involvement in the board of the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA).
The power of networking can be life changing. While I was at a Toastmasters’ officer training, I ran into a human resources recruiter from Tufts Health Plan (THP), who I had met through my involvement with ALPFA. She mentioned that a position opened up at THP and she thought I was a good fit for it. I decided to apply and I was selected for the role that I currently have, Product Planning and Strategy Manager for the Senior Products.
Where would I be if I hadn’t joined Toastmasters, ALPFA or played rugby? I don’t know but most likely, I would not be sharing my story with all of you. I encourage you to expand your network, whether is ALPFA, Toastmaster or any other organization that you are interested in your community.
When you network, the doors will open for you when you knock on the door.
Perspectivas Profesionales is a new monthly section in El Mundo Boston featuring the leading Latino voices from the world of business and entrepreneurship. For more content like this click here.
Caro is the Chief Administrator Officer of the Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA). Previously, she held other positions in the ALPFA Boston’s chapter such as the Vice President of the ALPFA Healthcare Committee.