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Hispanic Recruitment – Workplace Diversity Issues (Interview)

by Marc Luber

Hispanic recruitment is explored today as we continue to look at workplace diversity issues and their growing role in the recruiting and retainment of employees at companies around America.

Today’s guest, Los Angeles Times writer Maria Elena Fernandez, shares her experience as a Cuban American and how significantly it helped her career to get involved at a young age with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Maria Elena recently shared great advice in our career videos about being a journalist. In today’s video, she focuses on the networking opportunities that came as a result of being active in the association and how affirmative action programs helped her to establish her career, working at some of the top newspapers in America.


Workplace Diversity Issues

Workplace diversity issues have come a long way since Maria Elena was entering the workforce. She explains how there are opportunities today for people of all backgrounds – you just have to go out and get involved. She says the field of journalism, for example, has associations for many different minority groups, all of which can be found with some research. The same goes for other career paths. HireDiversity is a good place to start. If you’re Hispanic, you might want to check out the National Society for Hispanic Professionals. Also be on the lookout for special minority training programs at major companies – like the Tribune’s Metpro program that Maria Elena uses as an example.

Please share your thoughts and your experiences with workplace diversity issues and Hispanic recruitment in the COMMENTS section below.

TRANSCRIPT OF TODAY’S INTERVIEW

Luber: OK, so let’s talk about diversity. As a Latina American woman, I think you have a special perspective that you can share. And how it’s played a big role in your personal path. So I’d love you to share what role being a Latina American woman has played so that the people who are watching who are minorities of any kind – anyone who’s not a white male – can listen and really learn from your experience.

Maria-Elena Fernandez: Well I think that being Cuban American opened a lot of doors for me early on. One of the things that someone told me – an editor gave me this great advice early on – he said I should join the National Hispanic Journalists Association – that I would meet a lot of people that way – that I’d be able to network with top editors from other papers and go to the conventions and take classes and things like that. So I did join – and as a result, pretty much every job I’ve had since I’ve left Florida has been as a result of people that I met at these conferences that I kept in touch with, remembered me, and took an interest in me and basically tracked my career. My job in Atlanta that way, my job in D.C. happened that way and I wound up at the LA Times that way. So I think that I came out of school at a time when affirmative action was just becoming what it is and a lot more eyes were on it and people were opening up to the idea of making newsrooms more diverse and I benefited a lot from that. It’s what you do with it once you’re there too because you have to work really hard. I feel like it was kind of like a double edged sword when I was younger. Now, not so much. But when I was younger, because you came in and it was assumed you were there as an affirmative action hire and that’s the only reason and you kind of had to work harder to prove yourself. To prove that you deserved to be there for other reasons. I don’t know that that’s so much the case anymore. I think it’s evolved and times have changed but this was at the very beginning. In addition to joining organizations like the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, there’s NABJ for African Americans, there’s an Asian American….there’s all kinds of groups. I strongly recommend that because not only do you meet people but there’s opportunity for training and seminars at these things and you just get exposed to a lot of experienced people that you can learn a lot from. A lot of the bigger papers especially have programs – the LA Times, for example, has a program called the Metpro (www.metpronews.com) program which is basically – they offer a 2-year job at the LA Times. You get exposed to a lot and you work a lot of different departments and in many cases it leads to full-time employment afterwards. But at the very least, it was a job at the LA Times for 2 years, which can open a lot of doors elsewhere. Doing your research and learning about those kinds of things is really important too. America is getting more and more diverse as time goes. As we can see – in the White House we have President Barack Obama – so there’s a lot of opportunities everywhere. And it’s just a matter of being able to do a little research and figure out where the niches are – that might afford you a new door opening and a whole different career level. It can seem a little daunting but I did it straight out of school – I got myself involved in these kinds of organizations. It’s really worth it and anyone can do it.

(C) 2010 Careers Out There

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