Since moving to the U.S. from Venezuela, I have faced a number of challenges. These challenges included leaving my family and everything I knew behind for a country where I struggled to speak the language.
Although I learned the language over time, it is not at the level as my Spanish vocabulary. This language gap creates deep insecurities for me, especially when it comes to speaking with professionals. However, I am thankful to the National Millennial and Gen Z Community since everything has changed.
When I received the invitation to attend the Charlotte field trip with the NMGZ community, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. The only concerns I had was how to make a good impression and how to maintain high personal standards for my participation.
Upon arrival, I noticed that all my peers were outstanding leaders and students, so I wondered: Am I capable of doing this? As a native of my country, I was used to giving presentations and using high-end vocabulary. However, I did not have the same opportunities here with my second language. My fears overshadowed my capabilities, and I felt defeated; or so I thought.
At first, I was anxious to participate. However, my colleagues supported and encouraged me, and they also provided me with many learning opportunities.
I began participating in conversations and activities with various business leaders, asking questions, and letting myself talk without feeling self-conscious about my accent or worrying about that negative voice I was hearing in my head. The thoughts about how others would not understand me or think I'm not smart enough to be there were gone.
I believe the support from the NMGZ community helped spark a sense of confidence within myself.
During one of our dinners, I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Solange Tricanowicz, Director of Corporate Engagement at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Each table had NMGZ ambassadors who introduced the special guest seated by them at the table. At my table, there wasn't an ambassador present, and I did not do my research about Ms. Solange.
My peers were able to find a brief description about our special guest. They passed it on to me so I could introduce our special guest to everyone. I was obviously scared since I did not know exactly what to do and had to stand and improvise. The fear did not stop me from doing it, and when I thought I had done everything wrong, Ms. Solange started telling me a story and ended it by saying, "You were afraid, but you did it anyway, and that is how you grow."
I am grateful because her words lifted a heavy weight off my shoulders.
The lesson I learned is that we are all different. We are also special with many things to offer, and others often see the light and excellence in us. Sometimes we get caught up thinking the worst about ourselves.
My experience in Charlotte didn't just make me more confident about my career, it also taught me that the perfect work environment for someone to grow in their career is to show support for one another. For me, a diverse work environment is demonstrating and sharing what everyone has to offer without fear.