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  • Writer's pictureAngel Mondragon, California State University, Los Angeles

I Put in the Work and I Deserve to Be Here!

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to join the National Millennial and Gen Z Community on their trip to Charlotte, North Carolina. One of the most impactful parts of the trip for me was meeting and communicating with different professionals who saw my potential, some of which I was unaware of.

Visiting the companies and learning about their work was interesting, but what impressed me the most was how empowered I felt when I left the conversations.

One of the first professionals we met was Fields Jackson, CEO of Racing Towards Diversity. In his presentation he discussed some of his work, which mainly involves connecting employers with qualified, but often overlooked HBCU students.

After his presentation, I approached Fields who I was able to share a few laughs with. He left me with some words of wisdom as he happily shared his experience as a fellow person of color breaking through the industry.

Fields proceeded to connect with me on LinkedIn the following day, and even went so far as to endorse me in the leadership and communication skills to boost my profile. He left me feeling encouraged as an aspiring professional of color, and I felt ready to tackle the opportunities for my future.

Another interaction that had left me feeling uplifted was my conversation with Donald Wilson, DE&I Talent Recruiting and Development Leader at Wells Fargo. While I was not too familiar with his role within the company once he joined my peers and I at our round table discussion. I had a better understanding of what his professional role consisted of within Wells Fargo.

It stood out to me that Donald listened intently to what I had to say when values and diversity came up in our conversation. In the workplace, I often feel that I am never acknowledged for my ideas until I demonstrate my capability and value, especially as a young person. But with Donald, he found my thoughts to be invaluable and vital in developing future work practices for our generation without having to prove myself in any way.

As a student of color and Generation Z employee, I knew that my ideas had intrinsic value when they were implemented at a large organization like Wells Fargo.

After my conversation with Donald, I introduced myself to Richard Rose, one of Wells Fargo’s Culture Transformation Consultants. Upon our first few exchanges, I couldn’t help but notice that he wanted to have a more relaxed, open conversation with me. Aside from our fun banter, he left me with words that I will continue to remind myself of, “I put in the work. I deserve to be here.”

As a result of my conversations with Fields, Donald, and Richard, I left knowing that being my true self is incredibly valuable.

Traditionally, professionalism and personality are never intertwined. But our generation is abruptly introducing the culture of being ourselves and standing proud in our identities, while maximizing our skills and talent to make great strides across industries.

I am delighted to share that I left Charlotte empowered by these realizations and much more confident in my potential to do great work, all while being myself.


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