I grew up with a tight-knit family, and my first role models were my parents. My father is Mexican, and he came to the United States when he was only 20 years old. He worked in the fields in Mexico when he was a kid and in factories after he moved to the United States. My mother also worked throughout my childhood – sometimes multiple jobs. Seeing how hard they work resonates with me to this day.
With two working parents, my siblings and I had to pull together as a team. Growing up, my sister and I took care of our younger brothers. We helped them get ready for school, prepared lunches and helped with other household chores. It meant growing up quickly, but it taught me how to manage things and stay organized.
These skills were useful when I got my first job at McDonalds. I was in high school and it paid minimum wage. I was quickly promoted and made a team leader because I could pick up new skills quickly and knew how to manage people. I attribute this to the leadership skills I picked up as a kid – taking care of my younger siblings as well as serving as a leader in my church group and Cub Scouts.
I started my retail career at Walmart. That was 25 years ago, and I’ve been working my way up ever since. While I was at Walmart, I knew a Goodwill regional manager. He shared opportunities at Goodwill, and I ended up joining the company as a store manager. From there, I was promoted to area manager, then regional manager. Recently, I was promoted to my current position, retail brand standards manager. One of the things I like best about my new role is being able to help streamline processes for stores and enhance the shopping and donation experience. I get to draw on my past experiences to make things easier for employees but also attract new customers and donors.
Outside of work, I volunteer with a community nonprofit organization that helps provide financial education to the Hispanic community. My first job paid minimum wage, and it taught me the value of the dollar and how to budget. But not everyone learns those skills. The Hispanic market is underserved and it’s important to me to help families become financially educated and debt free.
If there’s one piece of advice I would give to others, it’s to do what comes naturally. Don’t give up on your dreams and goals and always look for ways you can step up and be a leader.
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