I am going to sound a little Academy Award-ish, starts acceptance speech... "I would like to thank God." But all jokes aside really, I am very, VERY thankful for the opportunity to be part of the Houston HACE cohort. It was one of those things that I applied for and never thought I would get into. I am very fortunate to have a husband who is always supportive (after some rational thought and long drawn out conversations about pros and cons to the program, HA.) of the program and me attending. Finally, I am also fortunate to have had so many wonderful women in my circle who pushed me, motivated me and messaged me with true words of positive support to just go for it and participate. As well as the support of my current employer, which was also key and highly important.
This opportunity was not taken in vain and I have been taking every week in and fully embracing every moment. I have been very vulnerable and emotional in most of the classes. We are coming to the end of the 4-month program with graduation being just around the corner and I wanted to give you a recap of what I have gained so far.
I have gained the following from going through this program:
New Lasting Professional Connections
Yes, my network is extensive after almost 18 years of career building experience, but to really get to know some of those connections is not the same. In this group, I am meeting, like-minded career-driven women but also very professional high ranked women, those of whom I am learning from and connecting on a very personal level. It helps create very lasting professional friendships, which are important to my career as I advance. In addition, these new connections can then become mentors and advisors along the way.
A Bigger Circle of Support
As the years have gone by and jobs have come and gone, I have gained one or two people within my professional support system. With HACE I am gaining a support group of over 10 ladies, all of who are working professional Latinas or working Mommas which makes me so happy. Their life experiences all come together in one room every other week and we learn so much from one another and can support and help one another as the months have gone by.
Skill Set to Move Forward
Yes, I have plenty of good skills that I have acquired over almost 18 years of working in corporate America. But the skills being learned in the Mujeres de HACE Leadership course go far deeper than learned skill sets. They combine those technical skills with experience and professional development. The combination is an eye-opener for sure. I have in the past months been exposed to deeper levels of self-awareness, emotions, and topics that I don't think I have really been able to develop over the years. Yes, we learn how to be professional and handle certain situations. But now, I feel like I have learned a better way to handle myself and my emotions so that I can not only overcome situations but take control of them and move upward in my career.
Confidence to Advance in the Workplace
One of those "skills" that I have gained in past years has been confidence. What I know now that was missing is boldness and the assertiveness to know what I am worth and my value. These concepts have added to my level of confidence when it comes to speaking about certain topics in the workplace and when it comes to handling how I want my career to move forward. HACE through the series of classes allows you to be inspired by other like-minded Latinas who have been able to boldly take control of their careers and advance. It's such a wonderful skill-set to develop.
When I came to this program I knew that I was a "strong" person. Life and work have made me this way. But, listening to the speakers in our course, those strong Latina's who have overcome so many types of adversity and obstacles to be where they are, has created a deeper sense of inner strength within me. More than I knew I had. Just the ability to overcome and mindset to push forward and fight for what I know I deserve and am capable of. I try to push myself daily to do better, to correct my wrongs, and with the HACE program, it has helped create a refresher as to why I do what I do and why I have come so far.
The women I have met in this course are not only classmates or career peers but they have become good friends. I know that I can confide in them, trust them and ask them for advice. In return, I have been there for some of the ladies who simply need a listening ear. Building friendships is important to professional Latina's who at times might feel like the odds are against or who may feel the world is out to get them. Building one another up and providing good genuine friendships is so important.
Better Understanding of Myself
As stated before, the course was an eye-opener. I have taken many personality tests and talked to several life/professional coaches now. But, I feel that speaking to them on a professional level and in a more established setting has helped create a different perspective. In the past, I have been in not-so-good professional setting or place in my career. Right now I feel settled, and as if though thriving in this current place is necessary. What helps is that the setting is just that, professional. It has helped better understand myself as a career Momma.
A different perspective of others in the workplace
The best advice so far has been to not take things personally in the workplace. I know that this has been said to me before but with listening to so many professional women in the last 3 months, this has become far clearer. Yes, you spend a lot of time at your job and you want to do well and succeed. But, at the end of the day, we don't truly know everyone we work with and taking things personal or home with you after 8 hours of work, is not good. We are all here to do a job. Regardless of our personal feelings, we should all have one goal in mind, doing what is required to complete our assigned daily tasks. I know that some people do better than others within a workplace. But, truly being the bigger person gives you the upper hand. My perspective has shifted and I want to do well. Not just to gain a paycheck every 2-weeks but because I want to have a long lasting a good career.
New outlook on my career
With this new perspective, the better more enhanced skill-sets, it gives me new hope and a new goal for my career. The desire to do well where I am for my overall career advancement and that doesn't mean I need to be promoted or moved up, sometimes good growth within a position or lateral moves can also create good shifts in your career. Being happy and open to what's coming. Embracing change and loving my job, it's what I want and strive for. Sure, there will be bad days because nothing is perfect. But, constantly seeking to do well for yourself and your future within a company has never really been a set goal of mine. In the past, I have had great positions where I have obtained promotions but it was almost always about the money and making more to provide for my family. Where I am now, sure money is needed to provide for my family but my true goals have changed and I don't think that's a bad thing.
Further Confirmation that I am Following the Right Path
If you have been following my blog for some time or know me personally you will know that in the past I have not been happy with my jobs. My workplaces have placed me in situations with not so favorable people. Again, I have despite all these obtained promotions and raises because I believe in working hard no matter what. But, until now I knew the past places were not permanent. Maybe it has to do with my current more stable family/home life, but I know that where I am could be my permanent place. Especially with the empowerment tools that HACE has provided.
Connie Gomez is a current participant of the Mujeres de HACE Spring 2016 Cohort in Houston. This blog was originally published on her site, Momma of Dos, which has developed into a Lifestyle/Parenting space that allows her to share her creativity, experiences as a Momma, suggestions and advice and to connect to so many people of all walks of life. Check out her blog here.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE MUJERES DE HACE PROGRAM HERE.