My Journey from the Philippines to the NYSE
I grew up in the Philippines confident in my abilities but also realistic in my expectations. As a woman born in the Cebu City, about 500 miles southeast of Manila, I thought I would follow a career path similar to those around me. Tourism is the primary industry in the Philippines, and nearly everyone I knew either had worked or still worked in hospitality, so when I joined the workforce, I naturally started in the hospitality business as well.
Growing up I had the image of the United States as a land of immense freedoms and opportunities, and when I became an adult I decided to emigrate to the U.S. I initially continued my career in hospitality—it was what I knew best—accepting a position at a resort complex on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. However, it felt different here in the U.S. from the very start, and I began to look at other, broader opportunities.
I was surrounded by great wealth and success in the Boston area, and I carefully analyzed the people I met who had established successful corporate careers. I was just an island girl who came to the U.S. to pursue personal advancement, and it seemed that the hospitality industry did not offer as much opportunity as other areas and industries. I thought, “If the travel industry doesn’t make sense for me here, what does? What is my American dream?”
Establishing and Maintaining Relationships
My big break occurred when I enrolled in a program by a non-profit organization called Year Up. Year Up helps early career talent receive training and certifications in high-demand areas of expertise. I immediately went online to the Year Up website and applied for the investment operations track.
For the next six months, I participated in Year Up’s training each day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then worked at a hotel from 4 p.m. to midnight. It was a difficult and challenging year, but I stuck it out, in significant part thanks to the career coach assigned to me through Year Up named Ainsley Castro.
Ainsley was simply amazing. She believed in me, pushed me, and supported me like no one else ever had. Thanks to her encouragement, I grew increasingly confident in my skills and made it successfully through the Year Up program. I got my big break when Year Up scheduled me for an internship interview at the financial services firm State Street. I still had to present myself successfully at the interview, but the Year Up training helped me secure the internship and launch my career. Following the six-month internship, I was hired by State Street full-time and my financial career was off and running.
Even though I had started my career, my relationship with Ainsley was far from over. In fact, when it came time to explore my next opportunity, she was the first person I turned to for advice. And this time, she pointed me to YUPRO Placement, the staffing firm owned by Year Up.
Figuring out the next step in my career was challenging. I was unsure how to find new and better opportunities and how to position myself as a strong candidate. The team at YUPRO Placement by that time included my mentor Ainsley, and together they listened to my goals, helped me identify my skills, and then matched me with the right opportunities.
The YUPRO Placement team also helped me improve my resume and got me ready for the interview process by holding several mock interviews. I went into the interview process well-prepared, but the support and training did not end there. After each actual interview, we came back together, reviewed how the interview went, and prepared for the next round.
YUPRO Placement Is a Long-Term Relationship
A couple of years later, YUPRO Placement proved once again that they were in it for the long haul with me. They were aware of an attractive opportunity in the asset management space and proactively reached out to contact me and see if I was interested. I was!
At first, I was not certain that I had the necessary qualifications for the position, and whether I could compete with other candidates who had more experience and/or came from a more traditional educational background. I did not have a degree in finance so I was worried that my resume would not “pop.” There is not an abundance of women, especially women of color, in the financial services industry. The YUPRO Placement team believed in me and helped me believe in myself. It was that confidence in my skills that landed me my current full-time position at Harbor Capital.
YUPRO Placement is the most organized, efficient, and proactive agency in the business. The YUPRO Placement team always showed they had my best interests in mind, and they were not simply trying to fill an open position. I sincerely believe that without their support, perspective, and advocacy, I would not be where I am today.
The Perspective I’ve Gained
My career experience has given me confidence in my skills and has also helped me realize what needs to be in place within an organization to ensure that others like me can succeed.
When I first immigrated to the U.S. by myself at the age of 21, I felt isolated and did not always know where to seek guidance and mentorship.
When companies seek to hire diverse individuals from non-traditional backgrounds, it is crucial to provide those employees with appropriate support and resources. If you are the only woman or the only person of color in a job setting, the time will come when you need a person to whom you can turn for advice and support. Without providing that lifeline, businesses risk losing the very people they worked so hard to recruit and bring into the company.
The YUPRO Placement team understands my background, my skills, and when I need support. They know their job is not finished just because they land you the job—YUPRO Placement continues to be a lifeline and a resource to help you succeed and eventually flourish.
On the first day of trading this year, I had the incredible opportunity to join Harbor Capital at the New York Stock Exchange and ring the ceremonial opening bell. It was one of the most rewarding and satisfying moments of my life. But I was not there to ring that bell just for me: I rang it for every young woman who wants a future in the financial services industry; who wants to hope for something better; and who wants to chase her American Dream. There should be no ceiling to what we can achieve in this land of opportunity.