My guest today is Jacqueline Medina. Jackie grew up in the Los Angeles area to working class, immigrant parents. Despite not having a formal education of their own, Jackie’s parents encouraged her to focus on her education. Jackie attended Loyola Marymount University and received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Spanish. Studying abroad in Spain was one of the most memorable aspects of her college experience. She later attended University of New Haven and received a Master’s degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology. Jackie was interested in a career in Human Resources but struggled to find a job after graduate school. Through persistence, networking, and determination, Jackie was able to break into Human Resources and a career she loves. Jackie is currently a Human Resources Analyst with the City of Commerce. She also has a Professional in Human Resources certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute and is an active member of various HR professional associations. Here is a little of her First Gen Journey . . .
In this episode, Jackie discusses how her experience studying abroad shaped her perspective and love of traveling. She also describes how she struggled to find work in her chosen career but through persistence and determination was able to land a job in Human Resources. Here are a few highlights from her episode:
· Jackie’s parents always supported her education and she got the impression that college was always in her future (2:14). They used doctor and lawyer as examples of careers to aspire to, but Jackie never felt pressured to choose those paths (3:19). With limited professional models, Jackie considered a career in the medical field and used volunteer opportunities to get more information about what those professions would entail (4:16). Her brother attended college when Jackie was 8 years old and that gave Jackie some insight into the college application process and allowed her to picture herself at college someday (4:55).
· Jackie attended Loyola Marymount University and described her experience on campus and the worries about affording college (6:33). She majored in Psychology but decided to also pursue Spanish as a double major. She found a tight knit community in the Spanish Department and was encouraged and excited to study abroad (7:16).
· At first glance, studying abroad was prohibitively expensive and Jackie’s parents had concerns both about the cost and about their daughter being in another country on her own (8:10). Jackie decided to take out a loan to finance her study abroad experience and detailed her experience in Spain (9:36). Even though it was a great learning experience, Jackie had a hard time meeting her mother’s expectation that she be in contact everyday (12:41). Despite some of the difficulties, Jackie would encourage First Gen students to take advantage of study abroad opportunities (13:51).
· Jackie discussed her desire to take a break from school and engage in the professional world. However, limited opportunities led her to pursue graduate school sooner than anticipated (15:45).
· Jackie attended University of New Haven for a Master’s program in Industrial Organizational Psychology because she was attracted to the business side of psychology (18:07). She detailed the culture shock she experienced being in a completely different environment (19:58).
· Finding work after graduate school did not go any more smoothly for Jackie (22:28). Jackie regrets some decisions she made early in the job process, like turning down an interview (23:40). She also feels that not having any work experience hurt her prospects (25:04). Jackie’s parents were supportive and encouraging throughout her job search (26:18). Eventually, Jackie took jobs outside her chosen field because she had to pay her loans (26:49).
· After managing to get a full-time job in the banking industry, Jackie got comfortable and stopping looking for work in the field she was interested in (29:19). She was unhappy at her job and decided to try everything she could to find a job that was a better fit (29:54). She experienced heartbreak in the job search process but eventually got the opportunity to break into Human Resources at Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic (31:24). Jackie described how she was convinced she wouldn’t get the job because she didn’t meet the minimum criteria but her persistence paid off (32:39).
· It took four years for Jackie to break into her chosen career and that has led to some feelings of being “behind” her classmates (34:31). Jackie relied on the effort and energy she put into her education to motivate her to continue trying for a career in Human Resources (35:12).
Jackie’s Tips for First Gen Students and Professionals:
Never give up on what you’re trying to achieve, even though it is hard. Never lose hope and always keep trying because you never know what you can get if you just keep trying.
Take advantage of the resources at your college/university and find internships and work experiences while in school to build your resume.
Network! Make connections because you never know who can link you to a job in the future.
Don’t compare yourself to other people because everybody has a different journey. We’re all successful to our own extent.