This multicultural marketing expert, with more than 25 years in the industry, shares how she has found that stereotypes are still running rampant in the 21st century, and how she must fight to not be pigeon-holed into only doing work for Hispanic markets.
What is your job title?
Digital Marketing Contractor
Would you describe what you do on a typical day?
I am involved in lots of meetings. I work on strategy, project updates, preparing presentations, reviewing metrics, and fielding any questions from others in and out of my department.
What is your ethnicity? How has it hurt or helped you?
Hispanic – it has helped because of the types of marketing activities I oversee.
If you’ve experienced discrimination, in what ways have you responded and what response worked best?
Fresh out of college, I was working late and one of the managing partners came over and asked me to empty out the trash cans from the offices before I left for the evening. I was shocked, but then I laughed at her. I just reminded her that I was part of her team. I don’t let these kinds of things get to me.
I have also faced lots of stereotypes from ad agencies that are not multicultural. I once had an agency share proposals for a TV spot and they presented an ad containing paper mâché piñatas, ceramic figurines, and all the stereotypical souvenirs a tourist in Mexico would be interested in. This was only 5 years ago with a major ad agency, and even though we had a VERY long meeting with them about it, they never really understood what the problem was.
What languages do you speak? How has speaking another language helped you?
I speak Spanish and English. I have needed to use both languages throughout my career. Speaking Spanish is an asset when developing relationships with others who speak Spanish as their first language.
What did you learn the hard way in this job and how did that happen?
I have found that just because a company wants to enter the Hispanic market, does not mean everyone within the company believes in it; this is true just about everywhere. You will find that middle management will push back even though top management is behind you 110%. You just need to keep pushing and do the best that you can do with what you have.
What don’t they teach in school that would’ve been helpful to you?
They did not stress the importance of networking – and that you can start building your network through your immediate family and their contacts. Sometime the best leads are within your inner circle.
How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
I was fortunate enough to get an internship during my last two summers of college. I worked at a small public relations firm which allowed me to do everything! Their motto was “We will never ask you to do something, we wouldn’t do ourselves.” From copying, to presenting, to designing, we did it all. I would not change the path I took because it brought me to where I am now. I have been very fortunate to have fun jobs.
Can you give an example of something that really makes you feel good?
I feel especially good when my manager tells me that I am doing a great job and he is hearing this from other people both within and out of our department.
When nothing seems to go right, what kind of snafus do you handle and what do you dislike the most?
On a bad day I hear everything from, “I need this report in 15 minutes,” to “You need to stay late and make it happen,” to “Yes you can take the day off, but I expect this to be done when you get back.”
I greatly dislike poor management, but you just have to roll with it. In the end it all works out.
How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance?
My job is very stressful. I cut off work when I leave, and try not to get on the computer until Sunday night. I have to force myself to do this to enjoy my weekend. I must remind myself that the work will still be here on Mondays no matter what.
What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough considering your responsibilities?
As a contractor I get paid on an hourly basis – $64/hr. I am well paid, but I have no benefits. It has worked for me, but I am ready to get my career on track with full-time employment.
What’s the most rewarding moment you’ve experienced in this position? Of all the things you’ve done at work, what are you most proud of?
I am most proud of launching a bilingual micro site even though I was faced with a lot of resistance.
What’s the most challenging moment you’ve experienced? What would you prefer to forget?
The lack of support from my manager to push things through is very challenging. Although Hispanic marketing is a major initiative, I don’t have the support or spotlight needed. However, when there are questions about what we are doing, I work late preparing reports and detailed updates. If there was adequate involvement, we wouldn’t have to be rushing to complete work.
What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
I recommend both a college degree and internship experience to enter this field successfully. If possible, learn a second language – it does help.
What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?
You have to have a passion for it because although it is often fun, there are some rough days.
How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
Unfortunately I have not had the luxury of a vacation in the past 2.5 years. There is just too much work. I have only taken a Friday off here and there.
Are there any common myths you want to correct about what you do?
Just because I’m Hispanic and bilingual doesn’t mean that I should be handling any and all things Spanish – including legal issues. Please don’t pigeon-hole me into only doing Hispanic work – I do have the knowledge and experience to also tackle general market work.
I also get all sorts of crazy requests. For example, what is the URL for the Spanish version of this English webpage? All one needed to do was click on the “Espanol” link. Also, I get questions such as, “should we translate our company name into Spanish?”
If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
I would either be doing marketing for a nonprofit organization or working as a counselor for college students who are trying to find their way into a career.