Leaving an institute of higher education and moving on into the workforce isn’t always easy, especially on the cusps of the end of a worldwide pandemic.
But it’s never impossible to make yourself stand out and to find the right opportunity for your desired career path. Here are six ways that job expert Michael Altshuler suggests for new graduates looking to get into the field:
- Create your own experience – If you have no work experience, trying alternative routes to creating some. A great place to start is volunteering. This looks great on a resume, and it is also a great place to start networking. Include any skills that you learned in school or elsewhere. Create independent projects. Whether it is a school project, such as a report that somehow relates to the industry, or something you make yourself such as a video or power-point presentation, having tangible evidence of skills can help. Take your time on it and make it look professional before you show it to a potential employer.
- Focus on your people skills – New grads with little real-world experience can make a huge impression with their great people skills. Not only does this show how you will interact with customers, it also says a lot about your personality, how you handle stress and how you might react when the going gets tough. A few great people skills to work on are kindness, humor, caring, humbleness, honesty and being inquisitive.
- Mirror the job description (in your resume and application) – For many jobs, the recruitment process begins with an algorithm that selects applications based on keywords. Try to include as many of the keywords from the job description in your resume as you possibly can without outright copying and pasting (remember, a human will probably look at this at some point, so don’t be too clever about this). For instance, if a job posting says something about independent workers who can manage their time well, include something about that in your application and resume as personal strengths.
- Research, research, research – Don’t think that just because you have graduated you don’t need to study anymore. One of the best ways for inexperienced applicants to standout is to do research on the company to which they are applying. Demonstrating that you already have a familiarity with both the operations and the values of the company when you walk into an interview shows that you have the interest, initiative and innovative spirit that will make you a valuable addition to the team.
Be Networking (all the time) – Let’s face it, job seeking, like life, isn’t always fair. Even with the best written cover letter, a resume without a lot of experience on it may find its way to the bottom of the pile of candidates quickly. Submitting resumes is not always enough; sometimes you need a personal connection to get your foot in the door. Begin by slipping your job-seeking quest into every conversation. Promote yourself without bragging. You might be surprised how fast someone will turn up who is either looking to fill a position themselves or knows someone else who is.
- Be honest but optimistic – As a new grad, the interviewer doesn’t expect you to know everything. Sometimes an honest “I don’t know” is better than trying to fake your way through and make things up. A lot of employers will ask unexpected questions to gauge how a person reacts to unfamiliar situations. Whatever is asked, stay calm. Answer as best you can and remember that this is to see how you react. Remain optimistic and answer in the way that shows that you can keep cool under pressure.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Michael Altshuler
Let’s be honest — if you’re applying for a job, you’re probably not the only person qualified for the position. How can you stand out among the competition before an employer even gets to meet you?
One technique you can use to your advantage is to write an attention-grabbing cover letter. Today’s blog post offers some advice and a few tips to get you started.
What is a cover letter?
A cover letter is a one-page document that introduces you to a potential employer. Your resume describes the facts of your work experience (either paid or volunteer work), while your cover letter gives the hiring manager some insight into your personality. While your resume tells what you did, the cover letter gives you the opportunity to describe how you did it.
Tip: For example, rather than stating that you have strong communication skills, provide the details of a particular problem you were key in solving and how exactly you used your communication skills to solve it.
Do I need to send a cover letter?
Yes, you should include a cover letter with your job application whether the company requires it or not. It can help you catch the hiring manager’s attention!
What should be in my cover letter? There are 3 basic elements you need to be sure to include: 1) how your experience meets the job requirements; 2) how your skills match the job requirements; and 3) why you want to work for this specific employer.
Tip: Every cover letter needs to be unique to the particular job. There are templates online that can guide you, but there is no one size fits all. You have to do the work to research the company and understand the job requirements. Remember, your cover letter should be customized for each job application. Be sure to adapt it for each particular company and include keywords from each job description.
Should I disclose my disability in a cover letter?
Disclosing your disability in a cover letter is up to you. If you decide to do so, employers may ask you to fill out a job application that includes a formal opportunity to discuss your disability and accommodations you may need on the job. Whether or not you disclose your disability, focus your cover letter on the skills you have that make you a great fit for the job.
How do I organize my cover letter?
Below is a simple structure you can follow:
Heading — includes your full name, phone number, email and the date
Tip: Add your social media profile (e.g., LinkedIn) if relevant to the job.
Addressee — the name of the hiring manager, company and business address
Tip: Researching online (e.g., Google, LinkedIn, company website) to find the name of the hiring manager shows you’ve done your homework.
Greeting — specific to the person you determined was the hiring manager
Opening paragraph — briefly talk about 2 or 3 of your accomplishments that are specifically relevant to the job. Tell your story.
Tip: If you have results that can be quantified, e.g., I increased production by 10 percent, this is the place for those.
Second paragraph — identify the key elements of the job requirements and explain why you’re the best person for the job. Where do your skills and the job requirements overlap?
Third paragraph — explain why you want to work for this particular company. What is it about this one company that you admire? Their product? Their inclusive culture? Be specific about why this is meaningful to you.
Conclusion — thank them for reading your letter and put the ball in their court. For example, you could end by saying you’d love to discuss your experience with them.
Closing — use a formal sign off such as Best Regards, Kind Regards, Sincerely or Thank you.
You’re almost done! Just a few final tips:
Edit your letter to be sure that it is only one page.
Proofread your letter. Make sure there are no typos or errors in spelling or grammar. Better yet, ask someone else to read it over for you.
If you’re sending your resume and cover letter by email, consider including the cover letter in the body of the email message itself. That way, you save the reader an extra step and your letter is more likely to be read.
By Kat Castagnoli
Did you know that 7 in 10 college students take out loans to pay for school? While it can take a long time to pay back student loan debt, there is a way to get your balance wiped out: by qualifying for a student loan forgiveness job.
If you work for a certain amount of time in a job with this option, you could get your student loan debt completely cancelled. While these types of jobs aren’t always the most high-paying, there’s often plenty of opportunity due to a shortage of workers to fill them. And what you might sacrifice in income, you could potentially make back with loan forgiveness after a few years.
Below is a list of 11 jobs that offer student loan forgiveness so you can decide if any would be a great fit for you:
- Federal agency employee
Here’s a little-known fact that applies to federal agencies: If they are having a hard time finding new employees to fill open slots, they are allowed to offer student loan repayment assistance. To qualify, the new employee must sign a contract to work for the federal agency for a minimum of three years. The agency is allowed to pay up to $10,000 per year per employee for federally insured loans, but the total assistance given cannot exceed $60,000 per person.
- Public service worker
If you work in a qualifying organization, such as a government agency or nonprofit, you could qualify for loan forgiveness. Full-time public service employees with Perkins loans can get full cancellation of their loans, as long as they haven’t consolidated them. Potentially eligible workers include family and child services employees, law enforcement and correctional officers and public defenders. Public servants with Direct loans (also known as Stafford loans) could pursue loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. PSLF is available to any worker in a government organization at any level, as well as tax-exempt organizations or for-profit organizations with a qualifying service.
There are several options for doctors in need of student loan repayment help. The Association of American Medical Colleges maintains a list of loan assistance programs for doctors by state. Additionally, medical professionals who serve in the military have access to forgiveness programs as well. For example, through the Navy Financial Assistance Program (FAP), medical residents receive an annual grant of $45,000 on top of residency income, which can be put toward medical school debt.
In addition to public service forgiveness options targeted specifically at graduates working in law, there are some other sources of loan repayment help for lawyers. For instance, every spring, the Department of Justice opens up its Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program (ASLRP) to help recruit and retain new talent. Justice Department employees must have at least $10,000 in federal student loans to qualify. For those who want to work as public defenders, the John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program provides loan assistance of varying amounts, depending on where you live. In addition, there are dozens of programs for borrowers with law school debt.
- Automotive professionals
Any automotive aftermarket industry manufacturer who is an employee of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) can apply for the SEMA Loan Forgiveness Program. The SEMA program awarded $272,000 to 97 winners in 2019 in scholarships and loan forgiveness. To be eligible, you must have been a SEMA employee for at least a year, hold a degree or certificate of completion from a college or technical school and have graduated with at least a 2.5 GPA.
If you are a registered nurse, an “advanced practice registered nurse” (such as a nurse practitioner) or a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) facility nurse, you may be eligible for student loan repayment assistance through the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program. The nurses chosen to receive assistance through this program will get 60 percent of their qualifying student loan balance forgiven, in exchange for a minimum two-year service commitment. Also, qualifying participants may receive an additional 25 percent off their original loan balance if they complete a third year of service. Please note that in this program, the full loan award amount is taxable.
If you’re a special education teacher, teach in a low-income school district or work in an underemployed subject area or a teacher shortage area, you may qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. If you qualify, you could receive up to $5,000 or $17,500 in loan forgiveness, depending upon what subject matter you teach and your number of years of service. Note that to qualify, your student loan debt must be from federal direct loans or Stafford loans.
However, if you have Perkins student loans, you could be eligible for the Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation program, where you could potentially receive cancellation of up to 100 percent of your loans.
- AmeriCorps, Peace Corps and other qualifying volunteer organizations
Did you know that certain volunteer organizations offer student loan forgiveness opportunities? Don’t let high student loan debt deter you from taking the opportunity to help others. Certain volunteer organizations like the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) all have student loan awards or repayment options. You can apply for these after you have completed your term of service with the organization.
Although dentists tend to make a high income — a median of $156,240, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — they also accrue a huge amount of debt before they start working. The American Dental Education Association found that the average dentist with student loans in the Class of 2019 left school owing a whopping $292,169. Luckily, there are some loan repayment assistance programs, or LRAPs, for dentists, such as the Ohio Dentist Loan Repayment Program and Maryland Dent-Care Loan Assistance Repayment Program. Programs such as these offer significant loan assistance to dentists who work in qualifying areas or workplaces.
Like dentists, pharmacists take on a lot of education debt to earn their degrees. According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, pharmacists in the Class of 2019 who borrowed student loans took on an average of $172,329 to finance their education. Here, too, assistance is available: Several national LRAPs provide financial help to health care providers, including pharmacists. Plus, some state programs, such as the California State Loan Repayment Program, will pay back all or a portion of your loans if you establish residency and practice in a qualifying area.
Not only could working with animals be a fulfilling career, but it could also help you get forgiveness for your student loans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers $25,000 per year for three years in student loan repayment assistance to vets who work in underserved areas. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 44 percent of veterinarians in the Class of 2018 left school owing more than $200,000 in student loans, while the average debt for all graduates was $143,111.
Should you pursue jobs that offer student loan forgiveness?
Most student loan forgiveness jobs have strict requirements, contracts and a minimum term of employment to qualify for loan cancellation. Also, you have to be current on your student loan payments — your loans can’t be in default. But once you meet the requirements, you will receive debt repayment, cancellation or forgiveness. Giving just two or three years of your professional life to a qualifying job may be the answer to your student loan problems and the key to your financial freedom.
By Yamily Habib, Be Latina
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted a myriad of things in the way we live. Not only did we learn to value our personal spaces and our community solidarity, but we put into perspective the way we travel and the value we place on freedom of movement.
Combined, these learnings have made us more sensitive to the fair representation and authenticity of our experiences.
For Sadie Jordan and Emily Orgias, these life lessons came to fruition in Soul Life Travel, the first Black and women-owned travel agency in Costa Rica — Jordan’s mother’s native home (Jordan was born in the States).
After years of giving travel tips to their family and friends in the region, always trying to bring value to the authenticity of the Caribbean, Jordan founded Soul Life Travel; Orgias joined her afterward as a travel specialist.
This agency combines their decade-long experience in the travel industry and their more than fifteen years of personal globetrotting.
Soul Life travel offers unique and authentic trips that compete with irresponsible tourism, which poses a growing threat to local culture, especially in Costa Rica.
“We believe that sustainable travel is both possible and essential, which is why we craft exciting tours that highlight, not harm, the essence of places you visit,” the founders explain on their website “Our personal connection to the region not only enhances our expertise and commitment to the local community but also motivates us to carefully design tours that are tailored to every desire in your dream trip.”
As Jordan told Travel Noire, there are many things people don’t know about Afro-Caribbean Costa Rican culture. With Soul Life Travel, the founders hope people will learn by researching and planning trips for them. Their goal is to bring people together around culture, wellness, and adventure in the often forgotten Caribbean coast.
“I created Soul Life Travel to show Black and brown people our cultures. A lot of things connect us, whether it be our cuisine or how our mama’s throw down in the kitchen, and so many experiences,” Jordan said.
Soul Life Travel offers many tours, including “A Taste of Costa Rica,” “A Week In Costa Rica,” and “Afro-Caribbean Costa Rica.”
Click here to read the full article on Be Latina.
By Andrea Reindl, Mitu
August is National Black Business Month and this year, there’s no better time to support Black businesses. After the racial reckoning of 2020, many of us are still educating ourselves on structural racism and the impact it’s had on Black business owners and generational wealth. And part of that education includes shopping at Black-owned businesses.
Luckily, there are Black entrepreneurs out there who are following their dreams and making money moves. Here is a list of Afro-Latinx-owned businesses you can shop at online.
Azteca Negra was founded by Jefa Marisol Catchings, who identifies as Chicana and Black. Her online store started off selling colorful hand-crafted headwraps, but since the pandemic, she has also expanded into selling face masks as well. Buy the Mami & Me Princesa Headwrap Set (pictured) for $38.00.
La Boticá Studios
Founded by Afro-Dominicana Dawn Marie West, La Boticá Studios is what she describes as a “luxury fragrance brand” that is “rooted in culture.” With scents like “Flor de Selva” and “República,” her candles are sure to transport you to the Caribbean. Candles start at $78.00.
Coffee Del Mundo
Belizean coffee connoisseur Jonathan Kinnard founded Coffee Del Mundo’s to “help people rediscover coffee the way it was meant to be enjoyed.” So unnatural additives are a no-no. You can get pods or whole beans via delivery. Buy a bag of El Salvador Whole Bean (pictured) for $13.50.
The Cozy Cup Tea
The Cozy Cup Tea was founded by a New York Dominicana who loves tea. While she throws tea party events for the tea-lovers out there, she also sells Caribbean-inspired tea on her website. Buy all teas starting at $10.00.
Breukelen Rub Spice Co.
Breukelen Rub Spice Co. is a Flatbush-located spice brand that produces hyperlocal artisanal spice blends and dry-rubs. Founded by Afro-Puerto Rican chef, Chef JD, Breukelen Rub Spice Co.’s most popular spice blend is the all-purpose, nostalgic spice blend Abuela’s Adobo. Buy for $15.00.
Inspired by her own skin troubles, Panamanian Jefa Adriana Isabel Robinson Rivera created a skincare brand fit for a queen. She sells everything from cleansers to toners to serums to oil. Browse their catalog.
Coco and Breezy Eyewear
Famous Afro-Puerto Rican twin DJs Corianna and Brianna Dotson created this luxury eyewear line as a creative experiment. Their brand has since achieved wild success. These are luxury eyewear, so the price point starts at $285.00.
First-generation Dominican, M. Tony Peralta founded the Peralta Project. According to his website, his designs explore blackness in Dominican identity and pay homage to old-school hip-hop. This shirt is available for $35.00.
Valerie Madison Fine Jewelry
Valerie Madison is a fine jewelry business that describes itself as sells Black-Latina owned. The luxury retailer sells engagement rings, wedding bands, and other fine jewelry. These indulgences are a once-in-a-lifetime type of splurge, so prices vary.
Pisqueya Hot Sauce
Pisqueya hot sauce was created by Maritza Abreu from a recipe handed down “through a family of Dominican cooks.” With three delicious flavors (Smoky Hot, Medium Buzz, and Spicy Sweet), you’ll find a sauce for every occasion. Sauces sell for $6.99 each.
Click here to read the full article on Mitu.
By Emma Tucker, CNN
An all-Black female crew operated an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Phoenix in honor of Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman to earn a pilot’s license in 1921.
The airline hosted the Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars tour this week to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Coleman performing the first public flight by an African American woman in 1922. “She bravely broke down barriers within the world of aviation and paved the path for many to follow,” American Airlines said in a statement. Coleman’s great-niece, Gigi Coleman, was hosted on the flight operated by the all-Black female crew of pilots, flight attendants, customer service coordinators, cargo team members and the aviation maintenance technician, the airline said. “I’m grateful for American Airlines to give us this opportunity to highlight my great aunt’s accomplishments in the field of aviation,” Gigi said in a video posted by American Airlines titled “Empowering Women in the Skies.”
Very few American women of any race had pilot’s licenses by 1918, but those who did were often White and rich. Undeterred, Coleman learned French and moved to Paris and was accepted by the Caudron Brothers School of Aviation. In 1921, Coleman became the first female pilot of African American and Native American descent.
Coleman died at 34 in 1926 during a practice run with another pilot. While she never fulfilled her dream to open a flight school for future Black pilots, Coleman’s imprint on aviation history lives on, CNN previously reported.
Black women have been “notably underrepresented in the aviation industry, especially as pilots, representing less than 1% in the commercial airline industry,” American Airlines said.
“Today, I’m beyond thrilled to be a part of the crew where we are inspiring young girls, young girls of color, to see the various roles that these women play in every aspect to make this flight possible,” Captain Beth Powell, the flight’s pilot, said in the video.
American Airlines said it is committed to diversifying the flight deck, which includes “expanding awareness of and increasing accessibility to the pilot career within diverse communities” through its cadet academy.
The day after the historic flight, representatives from the Bessie Coleman Foundation and American Airlines pilots and cadets met with students at the Academies at South Mountain in Phoenix, where the flight landed, to expose young people to careers in the aviation industry.
Click here to read the full article on CNN.
Especially coming out of the pandemic, the need for job security has increased for job seekers across the country.
While many industries and ways of doing business have changed through the events of 2020 and into 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be a 31 percent increase, at minimum, to 10 career fields in the next 10 years, despite the pandemic’s effects on the economy.
Pursuing a career in a growing field could not only provide job security through unprecedented events but could provide a steady income and a foundation for moving up in the ranks of your career. Check out the 10 fastest-growing jobs.
Wind Turbine Technician
A wind turbine technician, also known as a wind tech, installs, inspects, maintains, operates and repairs wind turbines. They can diagnose and fix any problem that could cause the turbine to shut down unexpectedly.
- Projected Growth Change: 68.2 percent
- Median Annual Wage: $56,260
- Required Education (minimum): Certificate in Wind Energy Technology
A nurse practitioner (NP) is an advanced practice registered nurse and a type of mid-level practitioner. NPs are trained to assess patient needs, order and interpret diagnostic and laboratory tests, diagnose disease plus formulate and prescribe treatment plans. NP training covers basic disease prevention, coordination of care and health promotion but does not provide the depth of expertise needed to recognize more complex conditions.
- Projected Growth Change: 52.2 percent
- Median Annual Wage: $120,680
- Required Education (minimum): Master’s degree in the field of Advanced Practice Nursing
Solar Photovoltaic Installers
Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers assemble, set up and maintain rooftop or other systems that convert sunlight into energy. Typically, a PV is in charge of measuring, cutting, assembling and installing solar modules, panels and support structures according to building codes and standards. They also work to maintain, test and ensure the productivity of PV systems.
- Projected Growth Change: 52.1 percent
- Median Annual Wage: $47,670
- Required Education (minimum): High School degree and Trade School Knowledge
Statisticians are responsible for analyzing data and applying computational techniques to solve problems. Typical job tasks include designing surveys, experiments and polls; applying mathematical theories and methods to solve practical problems in business, engineering and the sciences; and interpreting data and communicating analyses to technical and non-technical audiences.
- Projected Growth Change: 35.4 percent
- Median Annual Wage: $95,570
- Required Education (minimum): Master’s degree in Statistics
Physical Therapist Assistants
Physical therapist assistants sometimes called PTAs, and physical therapist aides work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists. They help patients recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement and manage pain. They are directly involved in the care of patients and often aid in patient care, treatment area setup and clerical duties.
- Projected Growth Change: 35.4 percent
- Median Annual Wage: $61,180
- Required Education (minimum): Associate degree from an accredited program and a license or certification
Information Security Analysts
Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. They are responsible for monitoring an organization’s networks for security breaches, keeping up with information technology trends and are heavily involved with creating their organization’s disaster recovery plan.
- Projected Growth Change: 33.3 percent
- Median Annual Wage: $102,600
- Required Education (minimum): Bachelor’s degree in Computer and Information Technology or a related field
Home Health and Personal Care Aides
Home health and personal care aides monitor the condition of people with disabilities or chronic illnesses and help them with daily living activities. They often help older adults who need assistance. Under the direction of a nurse or other healthcare practitioner, home health aides may be allowed to give a client medication or to check the client’s vital signs.
- Projected Growth Change: 32.6 percent
- Median Annual Wage: $29,430
- Required Education (minimum): Formal training
Medical and Health Services Managers
Medical and health services managers, also called healthcare executives or administrators, plan, direct and coordinate medical and health services. They may manage an entire facility, a specific clinical area/department or a medical practice for a group of physicians. Medical and health services managers must adapt to changes in healthcare laws, regulations and technology.
- Projected Growth Change: 32.5 percent
- Median Annual Wage: $101,340
- Required Education (minimum): Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in related fields
Data Scientists and Mathematical Occupations
A data scientist creates programming code and combines it with statistical knowledge to develop insights from data. Data science is an interdisciplinary field focused on extracting knowledge from data sets, which are typically large, and applying the knowledge and actionable insights from data to solve problems in a wide range of application domains.
- Projected Growth Change: 31.4 percent
- Median Annual Wage: $100,480
- Required Education (minimum): Bachelor’s degree in Data Science in a computer-related field
Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine in teams with physicians, surgeons and other healthcare workers. They examine, diagnose and treat patients through examinations and diagnostic tests. They may also prescribe medication and give treatments.
- Projected Growth Change: 31 percent
- Median Annual Wage: $121,530
- Required Education (minimum): Master’s degree from an accredited educational program
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Energy, Wikipedia, Master’s in Data Science
By Oskar Garcia, NY Times
Serena Williams, the 23-time Grand Slam champion who has been the face of tennis since winning her first U.S. Open in 1999, said in a magazine article published online on Tuesday that she planned to retire from the sport after playing again in the tournament, which begins later this month.
Williams, who long ago transcended her sport as a dominant cultural figure, said in an as-told-to cover story for Vogue that she has “never liked the word retirement,” and preferred the word “evolution” to describe her next steps. “I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me,” including working with her venture capital firm and growing her family.
She was not explicit about when she might stop playing, but hinted on Instagram that the U.S. Open could be her last tournament. “The countdown has begun,” she said, adding, “I’m gonna relish these next few weeks.”
Williams said that she and her husband, Alexis Ohanian, planned to have another child.
“In the last year, Alexis and I have been trying to have another child, and we recently got some information from my doctor that put my mind at ease and made me feel that whenever we’re ready, we can add to our family. I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.”
Williams, whose last Grand Slam tournament victory came while she was pregnant during the Australian Open in 2017, was eliminated from Wimbledon in June in the first round.
“Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year,” Williams said. “And I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York. But I’m going to try. And the lead-up tournaments will be fun.”
Williams has won nearly $100 million in prize money.
With the caveat that there still may be more to come from her this fall, Serena Williams has put a dazzling array of achievements into her sport’s record books.
She has won 23 Grand Slam singles events, ranging from 1999 when she was 17, to 2017. They included seven Australian Opens, three French Opens, seven Wimbledons, and six U.S. Opens. She also has 10 further appearances in Grand Slam singles finals.
Click here to read the full article on the NY Times.
By Erica Nahmad, Be Latina
It’s undeniable that representation matters and the idea of what a scientist could or should look like is changing, largely thanks to pioneers like Afro-Latina scientist Dr. Jessica Esquivel, who is breaking barriers for women in STEM one step at a time.
Dr. Esquivel isn’t just extraordinary because of what she is capable of as an Afro-Latina astrophysicist — she’s also extraordinary in her vulnerability and relatability. She’s on a mission to break barriers in science and to show the humanity behind scientists.
Dr. Esquivel makes science accessible to everyone, no matter what you look like or where you come from. As one of the only Afro-Latina scientists in her field, and one of the only women who looked like her to pursue a Ph.D. in physics, Dr. Esquivel knows a thing or two about the importance of representation, especially in STEM fields and science labs.
Women make up only 28% of the science, technology, engineering, and math workforce in the U.S. Those disparities are even more severe when you start to look at minority populations.
“When you start looking at the intersections of race and gender and then even sexuality, those numbers drop significantly,” Esquivel told CBS Chicago. “There are only about 100 to 150 black women with their Ph.D. in physics in the country!”
Fighting against the isolation of uniqueness
Dr. Jessica Esquivel recalls being a nontraditional student and being “the only” when she entered graduate school for physics — the only woman in her class, the only Black, the only Mexican, the only lesbian — and all of that made her feel very isolated.
“On top of such rigorous material, the isolation and otherness that happens due to being the only or one of few is an added burden marginalized people, especially those with multiple marginalized identities, have to deal with,” Dr. Esquivel told BeLatina in an email interview. On top of feeling like an outsider, isolation was also consuming. “Being away from family at a predominately white institution, where the number of microaggressions was constant, really affected my mental health and, in turn, my coursework and research, so it was important to surround myself with mentors who supported me and believed in my ability to be a scientist.”
While she anticipated that the physics curriculum would be incredibly challenging, she was definitely not prepared for how hard the rest of the experience would be and how it would impact her as a student and a scientist.
The challenges she faced professionally and personally made her realize early on just how crucial representation is in academia and all fields, but especially in STEM. “It was really impactful for me to learn that there were other Black women who had made it out of the grad school metaphorical trenches. It’s absolutely important to create inclusive spaces where marginalized people, including Black, Latina, and genderqueer people, can thrive,” she said.
“The secrets of our universe don’t discriminate, these secrets can and should be unraveled by all those who wish to embark on that journey, and my aim is to clear as many barriers and leave these physics spaces better than I entered them.”
When inclusion and equal opportunities are the ultimate goal
Dr. Jessica Esquivel isn’t just dedicating her time and energy to studying complex scientific concepts — think quantum entanglement, space-time fabric, the building blocks of the universe… some seriously abstract physics concepts straight out of a sci-fi movie, as she explains. On top of her research, she put in so much extra work to show people, especially younger generations of women of color, that the physics and STEM world is not some old white man’s club where this prestigious knowledge is only available to them. Dr. Esquivel is an expert in her field; she knows things that no one else currently knows and has the ability and the power to transfer that knowledge to others and pass it down to others. There is a place for everyone, including people who look like her, in the STEM world, and she’s on a mission to inspire others while working to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the STEM space.
“Many of us who are underrepresented in STEM have taken on the responsibility of spearheading institutional change toward more just, equitable, and inclusive working environments as a form of survival,” she explains. “I’m putting in more work on top of the research I do because I recognize that I do better research if I feel supported and if I feel like I can bring my whole self to my job. My hope is that one day Black and brown women and gender-queer folks interested in science can pursue just that and not have to fight for their right to be a scientist or defend that they are worthy of doing science.”
Click here to read the full article on Be Latina.
By Palabra, NJ
Where are you from?
It’s a question that Franchela Ulises hears often in Arizona when she speaks in Spanish. In her native language.
She is used to the question. But she’ll never get used to the strange looks from others when she’s in public. She’s seen that look at the grocery store or at the park when she’s with her kids and they’re all talking in Spanish.
Sometimes she laughs it off. Other times, she lets her frustration flow.
Franchela was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Her parents are from the Dominican Republic.
In the country of her parents, Franchela doesn’t attract attention. Here in Arizona, in a desert state on the border with Mexico, a Black woman who speaks Spanish is watched with curiosity and sometimes reveals the prejudice toward people who share her heritage.
Facing discrimination. Not feeling recognized, included or accepted as an Afro-Latina. It’s exhausting, she says.
Franchela channeled her frustration into creating “Mujeres of all Shades.” The organization helps women of all races and cultural and ethnic backgrounds champion their own style, their own identities, their own expressions of beauty and brilliance.
She’s cultivating a collective of women who are changing the fashion industry to be more inclusive of what women want and how they want to be seen and heard.
Together, they fight for confidence and self-esteem and against stereotypes about beauty, race and gender. For Franchela, it is a movement.
She has three daughters. She wants them to see more Afro-Latinas represented on television and other media.
On a cool day in downtown Phoenix, Franchela is posing for photos and speaking in Spanish and English. She explains what life is like for Afro-Latinas in Arizona.
She fixes her hair and adjusts her jacket with splashes of vibrant colors from lime green to indigo blue. She crosses her legs and sets aside her Gucci bag.
Looking at the camera with the confidence of a Hollywood star on stage, a model on the runway or mama with three babies, she smiles and says: “I’m Afro-Latina.”
She releases a mischievous laugh adding, “I’m a little bit of everything.”
Franchela is 30 years old. She tries to explain how she defines herself, shows her identities in simple, straightforward ways that still seem so complicated in the eyes of people who do not know her cultural mix and her roots.
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By Gloria Oladipo, The Guardian
Black business ownership is surging in the US despite the coronavirus pandemic, research shows, with a rise in businesses owned by Black women.
At the start of the pandemic, Black-owned businesses suffered. Between February and April 2020, Black business ownership dropped by more than 40%, the largest drop of any racial or ethnic group, according to a report from the House committee on small business.
When government aid became available, Black business owners received fewer small business grants than white business owners, with paycheck protection program funds only reaching 29% of Black applicants versus 60% of white ones.
But according to research from University of California Santa Cruz economist Robert W Fairlie, Black business ownership is now up by almost 30% on pre-pandemic levels.
The Biden administration has said a record number of people are starting their own businesses. Women of color are the fastest-growing group of female entrepreneurs.
“At a time when folks are rethinking their lives and choices, it is not surprising that more Black women are electing to become CEOs of their own companies rather than waiting for their intelligence and skills to be recognized at their current firms,” Melissa Bradley, founder of 1863 Ventures, an agency for Black and brown entrepreneurs, told Business Insider.
Pandemic layoffs could be another factor in the rise of Black business ownership. Job insecurity caused by Covid-related restrictions prompted many people to explore alternative options, including starting businesses.
Diamonte Walker, deputy executive director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, told the Pittsburg Post-Gazette: “Being beholden to corporations and institutions just doesn’t feel like a safe bet in times of uncertainty, whereas the risk of starting a business now starts to feel a lot less than the risk of sitting on a job not knowing when your number is coming up.”
Experts say the emergence of female Black business owners could be explained by Black women wanting more control over their work life.
Millions left their jobs during the pandemic due to inadequate pay, lack of childcare options and debates about remote work, all compounded by systematically low pay and workplace discrimination.
“If you start your own business, some of those obstacles may not be as acute as if you were relying on employment from someone else,” the Wells Fargo chief economist, Jay H Bryson, told Insider.
“There may be avenues that certainly benefit anybody, but proportionally they’d be more beneficial to the Black community than other parts of the population.”
Click here to read the full article on The Guardian.
By Xintian Tina Wang, Inc.com
Black and Latina women founders received only 0.43 percent of the $166 billion in VC funding dished out to startups in 2020. That’s according to ProjectDiane, a biennial report on the state of Black women and Latina founders by the organization DigitalUndivided.
Two women who are beating the odds are Kelly Ifill, the founder and CEO of Guava, a neo-bank and community platform designed to serve Black entrepreneurs and small-business owners, and Evelyn Rusli, an angel investor and the co-founder and president of baby food brand Yumi. The two sat down with All the Hats editor Teneshia Carr to talk about the best strategies for overcoming the hurdles to getting funding as a female founder of color. Here are three that stand out.
1. Be prepared to hear ‘no’ and keep pitching.
Rusli says she receives probably hundreds of rejections when pitching to investors, but encourages founders to stay positive nevertheless. “I think you have to pitch a lot of investors in the beginning, where not everyone is going to say yes. In fact, you’re going to get many nos,” says Rusli. “For every no out there, there is a yes. If you believe so strongly in your vision and that’s why you took the leap, then you just have to continue to knock on those doors and try to find the angles.”
Ifill agrees and suggests that pitching is a numbers game — by pitching more, you’ll come to understand what resonates with investors best. “Some investors will give you feedback, so you can scrap from your pitch what’s not working and what you need to double click on,” she says.
2. Find a compelling story.
Practice telling your pitch story to get it right and tight. Investors are humans, and they respond to stories that have humane aspects.
“We don’t pay attention to the storytelling aspect of the pitches enough,” says Ifill. “Try to tell stories of the lived experience of people that you’re trying to change or an industry problem that you’re trying to solve. I find that’s [led to] the most successful moments that I have had with investors.”
3. Leverage your network to find the right investor
LinkedIn can be your go-to platform to get to know people in your industry. Rusli urges being unafraid to cold call people you don’t know. “People reach out less than you think they do in general. If an investor finds your subject line interesting, they might just respond.”
Click here to read the full article on Inc.com.