Gina Moreno

5 Teachings from our Hispanic Culture that May feel Unnatural in your Career

Hello everyone, welcome! I am super excited for this topic because it has taken me years to pin down. Even now I feel like I am continuing to learn and understand my Hispanic culture and how it plays a role in my life. This is based on my experience, research and what I have lived with friends with similar experiences. Feel free to leave anything that I missed or tell me if you resonated with any of these. There is a lot more on this topic on a personal level, but I will start with career related topics. All of these were big realizations for me. I am not asking you to change your customs or values, my ask is for you to be aware of them and see how they play out in your career and how they affect YOU. A sidenote is that these teachings can resonate for more than just the Hispanic community, they can apply to other communities of color.

Be Humble

I cannot have a better illustration for this than my recruiting experiences. I’ve had the opportunity to be a recruiter for various hiring events on behalf of the company I work for, and I have noticed common patters in Hispanic students from universities from all over the country. In conversations with other recruiters from companies like Rolls Royce, Lockheed Martin and Cummins, we have conceded that the following is a common blocker for our Hispanic students to get hired: they are afraid of showcasing their accomplishments because they don’t want to seem arrogant.

This is frustrating to me because I KNOW how much talent and value they can bring. For that I say: You can be humble and be proud of what you have done! So many times I have heard from people who have amazing personal projects or volunteering experiences, and they do not list it in their resume or talk about them because they consider it as “not relevant” or not an actual “job”. They downplay what they have done and say it is “not a big deal”. Let me tell you, WE WANT TO HEAR ABOUT THOSE EXPERIENCES! Those are the things that will make you stand out! I attribute the fear of seeming as arrogant to the education that we received of being humble and not being “Presumido”.

In your career, you will be faced time over time again to speak out on what your accomplishments are and what you have contributed, it starts with you! If you want an internship, a job, promotion, more money, start a business, whatever it may be: you are the person that has to be the proudest of what you have done and the most vocal. It may be uncomfortable at first, but just know you are only SHARING what you have done. You are not making people uncomfortable simply by talking about what you are passionate about. Take a pat in the back, you have done well 🙂

Family First: Individual vs Collective Culture

Latin American countries have what we call a “collective” culture, where well-being is a collective family effort, whereas the United States is more of an individualistic culture. This means that when thinking about self-fulfillment and goals, Latin American countries tend to lean to consider the “greater good” of the family, and heavily consider their families for their life milestones. The United States fosters a more independent dream chasing, that does not require family going along with you. For me, this translated into moving away from home. This was the hardest thing I had to tell my parents. I had to “break it ” into them. First I left 3 weeks, then 2 months, then 8 months, and now I live in a city that is 8 hours away (soon move to a city that is 24+hours away). I could not help but feel guilty when they told me they wanted me to live close to my hometown. My parents are my WHY and the most important thing in my life, but I realized I need to write my own narrative and do what makes me happy. Right now is a time of deep exploration and self-discovery for me, and I am set to break a lot of family patterns. I personally do not have the headspace or liberty to do that living with either one of my parents. I have uncovered that although they are not going to agree with every decision I take, if I am happy, they will be happy! Who knows, I might return to my hometown soon with all this working from home!

Don’t challenge your Elders (the status quo)

From a young age, we are thought to respect anyone who is older than us. Our parents, our older siblings, our Familia. In our culture, if we are instructed by an elder to do things, we don’t ask questions, we just do it! While respect is an amazing value to have (one of my top 5), this does not mean to blindly accept things as they are in our workplace or institutions. Asking “why” in your career and questioning the reasoning of things is perhaps the best thing you can do. There is a quote that is similar to “Smart people know how, but leaders know why”. Asking questions is one of the top pieces of advice I received in college, and I do that a lot! I am a curious person and even with good intentions, I felt extremely uncomfortable at first. Getting to the root cause of things can make you feel like you are challenging someone (because you are), but it does not mean you should not do it! If you come from a place a of respect and wanting things to be better for all parties involved, take pride in it! People may have many more years of experience than you, but the message that I am trying to spread is that each person has their own experiences that they can bring value in, sharing your voice is the first step in change. This is what is going to catapult your career.

Avoid Directness

In our big families, there is always a space to create drama. If you are in the traditional Latino family, you are thought not to speak about those things that make others uncomfortable. With all that is going on in the world I feel that dialogues are changing, and we are moving to a place where we can have more open conversations, however, the traditional way is to avoid those direct conversations to keep peace and avoid conflict in the family. In the first professional conference I attended, I felt insecure to clearly state what I was looking for from people, it just felt… transactional? I thought I was being “convenenciera”. When I tried to look up that word in English (even back then in 2016) I did not find a good translation, but it basically means doing things for your own benefit. I was not used to using direct language, again, it just felt harsh and unnatural. When you are pursuing your career, you must be clear with yourself to what you’re looking for, but also to everyone else around you! If you want something, clearly state it. If you think something should change, say it. Sometimes even being your authentic may seem like a bold, direct action, but these direct conversations can create a lot of value, just like challenging the status quo. If there is something wrong, and someone needs feedback, you must speak up! Feels weird to be direct at first but practicing even with your family will help!

Don’t Go After What you are not Naturally Good at

This is Growth Mindset vs Fixed mindset. From a young age we are praised for getting things accomplished in our first try, and we are positively enforced to be proud of “natural talent”. Although that is great encouragement to keep doing what we enjoy, we are often not encouraged to do things we are not naturally good at. There is low encouragement to continue to do things we have failed at. If you are bad at numbers, then you should not do engineering, if you can’t cook, you should not cook for the family reunion. We can learn to be who we want to be, and just because you are not good at something, doesn’t mean you will never be! Have faith in yourself and keep following your dreams! <3

In Closing

These teachings are important to be aware of! They don’t hold us back; they make us who we are, and they are proof that we have built resiliency and have strong adaptation skills. We have the emotional intelligence that others wish they had. Leave your thoughts below and don’t forget to subscribe, thank you for your time.


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