Sal Perez got his start in “Sesame Street” as a production coordinator in 2006, while he was still a senior in college.
Sixteen years later, Perez, 38, is making history as the beloved children’s show’s first Latino executive producer, ushering in a new season — the show’s 53rd — on Thursday.
“I did film school, and I never thought that I would be doing TV that was positive for kids,” Perez, a first-generation Mexican American who grew up in California’s Bay Area, told NBC News. “It’s such a big responsibility that I sometimes try not to think about it.”
The growing U.S. Latino population needs a larger pool of educators and advocates who represent their unique cultural and linguistic identities while sensitizing others in the school system and beyond. In honor of Women’s History Month, ProgressReport is uplifting the voices of some of the Latina educational leaders who are currently making history by paving the way for the next generation of changemakers. UnidosUS celebrates the accomplishments of three Latinas representing excellence at all levels of the education system – Miriam Calderon, Maria Armstrong, and Melody Gonzales – they share their journeys and insights with Progress Report.
Early Childhood Education
Miriam Calderon, pictured above, chief policy officer for ZERO TO THREE, the nation’s largest early childhood advocacy organization, has spent two decades advocating for young children, especially Latinos and dual language learners, to have a better early start in their education. She served as UnidosUS’s associate director of education policy, early childhood education director of DC Public Schools, senior director of early learning at the Bainum Family Foundation, and as an appointee of the Obama and the Biden Administrations, as well as former Oregon Governor Kate Brown, all leading efforts to reinforce and grow early education programs. Today, her career is fully aligned with trending education policy conversations.
At the onset of the pandemic, she was tasked with helping to provide emergency grants to early childhood centers across the state of Oregon, which boasts the fastest-growing Latino population in the country. That work reinforced what she already knew: this country’s early childhood education system had always lacked an appropriate infrastructure and the pandemic simply revealed and exacerbated that reality.
“Our systems for communicating with providers in real-time were threadbare – to know if providers were open, if they had spaces where we could refer families. It was challenging to get providers and programs PPE; to give grants to providers to offset their higher costs of operating during the pandemic,” she says, noting that this marked the first time many providers had the opportunity to receive public funding. “It took literally seeing the sector come close to collapse for there to be a shift in understanding that ECE is an essential service.”
The pandemic also helped to reveal historic bias and discrimination against those who provide ECE services.
“We’ve understood for decades that babies are born learning, ” she says. “If it was just about educating policymakers and the public about this – we have done that repeatedly as a field. The lack of progress is about who does this work – women of color, immigrant women, low-income women.”
That means acknowledging their fundamental human rights while recognizing their role in raising an increasingly diverse generation headed for a competitive global workforce.
“It’s about valuing our youngest citizens,” she adds. “We spend more public funds on children as they get older and the least during the first 1000 days.”
As the general public gains greater awareness of these concerns, advocates like herself feel more emboldened in their approach to policymakers.
“We are finally asking for what it will truly take to build a sector that eliminates race, income, and zip code as a predictor of the ECE experience for a child and families that is fair to the workforce, that will capitalize on the importance of this developmental period, and that can deliver the ECE experiences that families want and need for their young children, especially families that have historically lacked access.”
That boldness is getting advocates closer to the goal. President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan proposed investing a historic $390 billion in federal funds for childcare and pre-K, and only one dissenting vote from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) within the Democratic Caucus kept it from passing. Childcare and education were not included in the Inflation Reduction Act, the compromise bill that followed and ultimately got signed into law.
The near victory only fuels Calderon to keep pushing through her work at ZERO TO THREE, which, in partnership with organizations like UnidosUS, has successfully advocated for increases in Migrant Head Start and getting language access provisions for families in the major federal ECE programs.
“We still have a long way to go,” she says, noting that a lack of support for linguistically and culturally relevant ECE programs is rooted in anti-immigrant, pro-English policies. But today, she explains it’s impossible to ignore that one out of every three children is growing up in homes where languages other than English are spoken.
Then comes the question of better support and compensation for ECE teachers.
“If we aren’t compensating (ECE teachers) well and investing in their access to professional learning, credentials, and degrees, we won’t maintain a workforce that reflects the diversity of our children and families,” she explains.
ZERO TO THREE and UnidosUS are keen to keep this discussion centered on the knowledge and experience ECE workers have always brought to the table. For example, they caution against mandating bachelor’s degrees without first investing in the incumbent workforce.
“It’s not about being for or against the requirement. It’s about the barriers that have historically existed for women of color, immigrant women, low-income women to higher education and professional preparation opportunities,” she says. “It’s about not having degrees without the compensation that must go along with it. It’s about honoring the contributions of the workforce that has been doing this work and having options available for them in terms of how they want to advance in their careers.”
She is also a strong advocate for reminding the public that care and education go hand in hand.
“During COVID, I noticed that a lot of the talk about school-age children was about ‘learning loss’ – what children were missing in terms of academics,” she says. “The discussion around childcare was that adults couldn’t work – not that children missed out on important developmental and learning experiences.”
Her advice to Latina ECE workers?
“Continue to demand what you need— we won’t realize bold changes in ECE without your advocacy, without your voice to shape the policy.”
Maria Armstrong, executive director of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS), knows K-12 students need all the support they can get in catching up since the pandemic. She’s spent decades trying to help underserved communities. It began at the age of seven when she gathered kids in the neighborhood to teach them reading and math, or at least that was the role she imagined for herself. It paid off. She went on to serve as an assistant superintendent and superintendent in school districts around California; an adjunct professor at that state’s Azusa Pacific University and National University; and a consultant for the Puerto Rico Department of Education.
“Pandemic-era legislation leaders are in the thick of grappling with the aftermath and exposure of having the education curtain pulled open for all to see,” she says, adding that it is “moving us as a country toward acknowledgment of the past and present conditions to address our future.”
Because the United States is such a young country whose overall educational system once stood at the forefront of modernity, it’s easy for the country to get caught up in that narrative, she explains.
“For too long we have considered ourselves as better than anyone else on the planet, a very monolithic view from a country who prides itself as a melting pot of sorts,” she says.
That view of American exceptionalism probably comes from the fact that overall the country has rallied through many times of war and disaster. So how can it tap into its trait of resiliency and rally today with all students falling behind in their schooling and a greater number of those students coming from communities that were historically underserved in the first place?
“Our challenge is that we are not so young anymore, and it shouldn’t take an act of war or disaster to unite us on the conditions and issues of humanity, particularly that of education,” she says.
Not so young and not so naive. The current U.S. administration is aware that the country’s youthful confidence could pose a direct risk to the nation’s economy and security. For example, during his “Raise the Bar. Lead the World” tour, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona remarked that the quality and innovation of the U.S. education system is falling behind many countries and that it must do more in areas such as multilingual support if it wants to remain competitive.
“We need to raise the bar,” Cardona said in a January 24th speech to kick off his tour. “As much as it is about recovery, it’s also about setting higher standards for academic success in reading and mathematics. It’s unacceptable that in the most recent PISA test, an assessment which is done internationally, our students scored 36th place out of 79 countries in math.”
That’s a goal Armstrong is helping ALAS to lead on behalf of the country’s Latino students and educators. It starts with paying close attention to the issues ALAS’s affiliates are bringing to the discussion table.
“Our strength is only as great as the people we serve and that not only considers how we operate but provides direction in services and programs,” she says, noting that the ALAS’s board of directors boasts educational professionals who have either worked in K-12 leadership or are currently in the higher education space and know what students need to get there. Meanwhile, at the affiliate level, many of the leaders are full-time educators showing their commitment to underserved students by serving ALAS long after their workdays are done.
And their dedication fuels Armstrong’s leadership long after she retired from leading schools herself.
“People often ask me how I manage to attend every state event. My response is simple. Whenever invited, the least I can do is show support because it is through them that I gain my juice, my stamina, and the reason why I came out of the superintendency retirement,” she says.
But improving math and reading scores across all socio-economic groups needs to happen in a culturally relevant way, and it’s intimately tied to understanding the most uncomfortable parts of American history. Those are the parts where students identified as Black, Brown, immigrant, LGBTQ, female, and/or having disabilities were born into a system that historically sought to hold them back, and in many places still does.
To address this, ALAS is joining a long list of organizations working to protect and promote the teaching of truthful history and ethnic studies with the addition of an AP Latino American Course. And in 2020, ALAS partnered with the legacy youth-focused publishing company Scholastic Books to create the Rising Voices: Elevating Latino Stories Collection so that all students see themselves represented in children’s stories.
When asked about advice she has for other K-12 educators and advocates, she said: “I would rather provide encouragement than advice.”
She described that encouragement can come in the form of a reminder or an acknowledgment that advocates of educational equity aren’t in this battle alone. That networking can help to provide the brainstorming, support, and sense of connectedness they need to keep going.
“Our youth, our children, are counting on the adults in and out of the boardroom and classroom to do right by them,” she says. “Find your sister circle, and don’t give up.”
By day, higher education advocate Melody Gonzales serves as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics. By night, she helps other professionals work on advancing their own careers by providing services as an executive leadership coach. On both fronts, she is actively encouraging Latinas to study hard and dream big.
“We need your voices and lived experiences in the education sector and in the federal government as a career staffer, presidential appointees, and policymakers,” she tells her fellow Latinas. “Start with a strong, growth mindset. Identify what negative thoughts or imposter syndrome tendencies might come into play that could hold you back and identify those positive thoughts/mantras and facts that ground you in the fact that you are capable and worthy.”
She also encourages Latinas interested in pursuing careers in education and education policy to always engage in social networking, as she rarely got her many career opportunities through online job applications alone.
In her own career, the early networking came organically as a news reporter in her native San Diego and as the manager of the neighboring Chula Vista Convention and Visitors Bureau. After attending Georgetown University for a master’s degree in public policy and a certificate of executive leadership coaching, as well as several other leadership certificates through Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the Center for Creative Leadership, she found herself in a series of high-powered policy and advocacy roles.
Those included Latino engagement efforts for the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and the founding of her own National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a coalition of 39 national Latino nonprofits focused on encouraging Latinas to run for office and advising on campaigns related to economic empowerment, immigration, health, education, and voting rights.
Read the complete article originally posted on UnidosUs here.
Years ago, I facilitated a promotion committee made up of shop-floor employees who used performance evaluation data to rank all the eligible employees for a machine operator opening.
Even though Mike (not his real name) was the top candidate, many in the room still had doubts.
“He looks good on paper,” one person said, “but I don’t think he has what it takes.”
Others agreed. Early on, Mike had struggled in his current position. He wasn’t quick to learn. He sometimes needed to be shown multiple times. He wasn’t a “natural.”
I pushed back. It wasn’t fair to bypass him based on feelings rather than objective reasoning.
For a while, it looked like I was wrong. Once promoted, he was slow to pick up basic skills. Worryingly, he made a few of the same mistakes several times.
But once he did know how to do something? He really knew how to do it. Within a few years he was an outstanding machine operator whose skills surpassed those of his doubters. He even went on to earn several different machinist licenses, and later opened his own machine shop.
Mike wasn’t a natural. Nor was he talented.
But that didn’t matter.
Because Mike was exceptionally skilled.
The Difference Between Talent and Skill
Talent and skill are often used interchangeably since the outcome — performing a particular task, hopefully at a high level — is the same. The difference lies in how you acquired that ability, and how quickly.
Think of talent as natural aptitude. My best friend growing up was a natural athlete; he could, to an irritating degree to less talented me, pick up any new sport in no time. (Within the first ten minutes of playing tennis he was already hitting topspin forehands.)
In simple terms, talents are things you have.
Skills, on the other hand, are things you learn. I had to be taught to put topspin on a ball. I had to practice. I had to acquire that skill. It didn’t come quickly.
Again, that’s where the line between talent and skill can blur. We both ended up at roughly the same place in terms of skill, but talent allowed my friend to get there much quicker.
The rate of acquisition is one way to distinguish talent from skill. Mike took longer to learn; he wasn’t as talented as most.
But that didn’t keep him from acquiring exceptional skills.
And Why It Matters
Even so, for years most people couldn’t see past Mike’s initial lack of talent. Since he had started slowly, they underestimated him. First impressions lingered. He was rarely asked to help repair other operator’s equipment. He wasn’t chosen to train new employees, even though he would have been an excellent trainer. (The last person you want to teach you to do something is a person for whom that skill came easily.)
In the eyes of most, he was forever tarred by a “lack of talent” brush.
The opposite also happens. People who pick things up quickly are often assumed to be rated highly for that skill even if others eventually eclipse their skill. “Naturals” were usually chosen to train new employees, with predictably poor results. They couldn’t understand why trainees were slow to learn. They couldn’t explain the steps they performed instinctively.
And they were usually the ones people assumed “have what it takes” to deserve promotions.
Even though the rate at which you acquire a skill is, in the end, irrelevant. What matters is how well you can perform.
Not how long it took you to become a high performer.
Especially for Promotions
Granted, talent often results in a higher ceiling for aptitude. No matter how hard I tried, had he put in the work my friend could have been better than me at tennis, or really any sport.
Even so, assuming people who pick up things quickly have greater long-term growth potential is often misguided. Plenty of talented people top out fairly quickly, if only because innate talent tends to foster a fixed rather than growth mindset.
Plus, your other employees are less concerned with potential than actual. That’s one reason employees are more likely to be happy if their boss was promoted from within, rather than hired from the outside. A Joblist study showed that nearly 70 percent of respondents prefer to be managed by an internal hire — a seasoned company veteran who climbed the ranks — than an external hire.
They know the skills she has. They know the work she put in to acquire those skills.
Again, because what matters is what someone can do, not how long it took them to learn to do it.
The same is also true for you. Don’t have a “talent” for sales? Sales skills can be learned. Don’t have a “talent” for leading people? Most leadership skills — like giving feedback, building teams, setting expectations, showing consideration for others, seeking input, focusing on meaningful priorities, etc. — can be learned.
Granted, talent and skill are necessary to perform at a high level in some pursuits, like music, or sports or acting … but most pursuits — like starting a small business — only require skills.
And with the willingness to put in the work to acquire those skills.
Of the 12 billionaires I’ve met (yes, I keep count), Mark Cuban seems the most relatable. Partly that’s because he’s entirely self-made.
But also because, like most, he believes success comes down to effort and ability. And because, like most, he hates meetings. And because, as most of us like to think we are, he’s a genuinely good person.
As a result, Cuban’s advice often seems more applicable to the average person hoping to achieve success in their chosen pursuit. He’s done what we hope to do — and as a result, he knows what really matters.
Sales Skills Matter
What would Cuban do if he had to start over again?
“I would get a job as a bartender at night and a sales job during the day,” he says, “and I would start working. Could I become a multimillionaire again? I have no doubt.”
The reason is simple: Everyone needs to be able to explain the logic and benefits of a decision. To convince other people an idea makes sense. To show investors how a business will generate a return. To help employees understand the benefits of a new process.
To motivate and inspire and lead.
Because sales skills are, in essence, communication skills — and communication skills are critical to any business or career.
Which means spending time in a sales role, whether formally or informally, is an investment that will pay off forever.
Constant Learning Matters
What does Cuban feel will drive the next wave of business change? Artificial intelligence.
As Cuban says:
“If you don’t know AI, you’re the equivalent of somebody in 1999 saying, “I’m sure this Internet thing will be OK, but I don’t give a shit.” If you want to be relevant in business, you have to, or you will be a dinosaur very quickly. If you don’t know how to use it and you don’t understand it and you can’t at least have a basic understanding of the different approaches and how the algorithms work, you can be blindsided in ways you couldn’t even possibly imagine.”
That’s not just posturing; Cuban put his mind and money where his mouth is. He frequently recommends books about artificial intelligence, like Competing in the Age of AI: Strategy and Leadership When Algorithms and Networks Run the World. And he’s committed millions to expand his AI Bootcamps Program, an organization that teaches artificial-intelligence skills at no cost to high school students in low-income communities across the country.
“The world’s first trillionaires,” Cuban says, “are going to come from somebody who masters AI and all its derivatives and applies it in ways we never thought of.”
While most of us don’t dream of becoming a trillionaire, no matter what your industry, no matter what your pursuit, things always change. Things always evolve. They key is to know how to change with them. Which you can only do if you’re constantly, actively learning.
Being Nice Matters
Think about the best boss you ever had. Odds are they were demanding. They had high expectations. They may have provided occasional doses of tough love.
But I’m guessing they were also nice. Not soft, not lenient. But even so, nice.
That’s a lesson Cuban had to learn. As he says:
“I went through my own metamorphosis. Early on in my career, I was like bam, bam, bam, bam, bam — I might curse. I might get mad. I got to the point… I wouldn’t have wanted to do business with me when I was in my 20s. I had to change. And I did. And it really paid off. One of the most underrated skills in business right now is being nice. Nice sells.”
He’s right. When you’re nice, other people are more forgiving of your mistakes. Other people are more tolerant of your lack of experience or skill. Other people are more willing to work with you, help you, encourage you and, if you’re a leader, follow you.
Finding Your Passion Doesn’tMatter
Ask 10 people if they love what they do — ask 10 people if they’ve found their passion — and at least eight will likely say no.
Not to Cuban, who feels “follow your passions” is “one of the great lies of life,” and is the “worst advice you could ever give or get.”
According to Cuban, passion doesn’t come first. For Cuban, passion comes later:
“A lot of people talk about passion, but that’s really not what you need to focus on. When you look at where you put in your time, where you put in your effort, that tends to be the things that you are good at. And if you put in enough time, you tend to get really good at it. If you put in enough time, and you get really good, I will give you a little secret: Nobody quits anything they are good at, because it is fun to be good. It is fun to be one of the best. But in order to be one of the best, you have to put in effort.”
So don’t follow your passions. Follow your effort.
That’s why Cuban completed Amazon’s machine learning tutorials. That’s why he spent time building his own neural networks. That’s why, at one point, he kept the book Machine Learning for Dummies in his bathroom.
“The more I understand AI, the more I get excited about it,” Cuban said.
In short, Cuban didn’t discover a passion for artificial intelligence. He developed it.
Oddly enough, according to a 2014 study published in the Academy of Management Journal, that’s how the process often works for entrepreneurs.
While it’s easy to assume that entrepreneurial passion drives entrepreneurial effort, research shows the reverse is also true: Entrepreneurial passion increases with effort. The more work entrepreneurs put into their startups, the more enthusiastic they get about their businesses.
As they gain momentum, gain skill and enjoy small successes — even if those “successes” only involve ticking off items on their seemingly endless to-do lists — their passion grows.
Can passion spark effort? Absolutely.
But effort can also spark passion, which in turn sparks greater effort, and greater passion, until one day you wake up and realize you are doing what you love.
Even if it didn’t start out that way.
Jeff Haden is a keynote speaker, ghostwriter, LinkedIn Influencer, contributing editor to Inc., and the author of The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win.
Recently, a friend shared with me she was meeting a lot of great people by swiping right. I was a bit taken aback because she is, what appears to be, happily married. My response caused her to grin and clarify she was not looking for romance. She was using a new app to find mom-friends. It has similar features to the infamous Tinder dating app, but the purpose is to narrow down the vast number of moms in an area to those who share similar interests.
As she further explained how the app worked and her success, my opinion of this swipe left/swipe right function began to change. With correct intentions, the technology could be helpful.
HOW TO SWIPE FOR NETWORKING SUCCESS
Consider all of the factors that go into choosing a mentor or mentee. It would be great to quickly swipe through professional profiles to find a good match. I would look for things like: integrity, honesty, enthusiasm, skills and experience. I would want someone who was passionate about growing new leaders and committed to investing the time it takes to do so. But just like the popular dating app, a swipe right on a mentor’s professional profile would not mean a match. My profile would also need to reflect good mentee status.
If you were seeking a mentor, here are a few things you would need to get swiped right.
Good mentors and good mentees use their time intentionally. It can be difficult to find coordinating availability, so be accommodating. Make this opportunity a priority and accept the meeting time offered.
Good mentors have a wealth of knowledge, and a good mentee is going to pull out that great information. Think about what you admire in this mentor and ask questions to discover how he/she developed that skill or ability.
Nothing is worse than a person who ‘knows it all’ except a person wanting to be mentored who ‘knows it all.’ If the conversation turns to a topic you feel confident about, pivot the discussion to something else with a new question or ask for feedback about a time you have utilized that specific knowledge.
It is ok and important to open up and share about yourself, but give your mentor the chance to lead the conversation. If you are doing most of the talking at every meeting, the balance is off.
Willing to take advice
No mentor is perfect, but there is an assumption their role has been given because he/she has been successful in an area. There is no expectation that a mentee must mirror the mentor’s experience, however, if instruction/advice/guidance is continually being disregarded, you will be right on track to find yourself without a mentor.
Willing to be a mentor
A good mentor has a goal to inspire and teach others. It is a reward to see the investment of their time multiplied by their mentee becoming a mentor. Honor your mentor and give yourself the joy of pouring into someone else. Swipe right on your own mentee.
Just about every career in the STEM field requires some form of university-level education. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to spend every penny you own and then some to pursue your dream job.
Whether it’s through federal funding, non-profit organizations or individual donations, there are tons of scholarship and grant opportunities for students wanting to pursue the world of STEM.
Here are just a few of the scholarships that you can apply for:
The Society of Women Engineers Scholarship
Since World War II, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has been doing all they can to support the needs of women engineers across the country. One of the ways they do this is through the SWE Scholarship Program, which provides varying fund amounts to those identifying as women and studying in undergraduate or graduate programs in the STEM field. While the specific amount you can receive varies, the program gave away over $1,220,000 in scholarships in 2021 alone. All students, from incoming freshman to graduate students, may apply but freshman must fill out a separate application form.
Number of Scholarships Given: Varies
Application Dates: Applications usually often in December for upperclassman and the following March for freshman
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts Scholarships
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts (AAIA) is an organization dedicated to supporting the future generation of people interested in the aerospace field. One of the ways they do this is through their scholarship program, where undergraduates and graduates alike can fill out a single application and be eligible for consideration for up to three scholarships from their program. To apply, you must be at least a sophomore in college and a member of AAIA.
The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program is a partnership between USDA and the 1890 historically Black land-grant colleges and universities. The program provides full tuition, employment, employee benefits, fees, books and room and board each year for up to four years for selected students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, food science, natural resource science or a related academic discipline at one of 19 designated 1890s land-grant colleges and universities. The scholarship may be renewed each year, contingent upon satisfactory academic performance and normal progress toward the bachelor’s degree. Scholars accepted into the program will be eligible for noncompetitive conversion to a permanent appointment with USDA upon successful completion of their degree requirements by the end of the agreement period.
Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART)
In a collaboration with American Society for Engineering Education and the Department of Defense, the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) program is for students wanting to go into engineering, biosciences, chemical engineering, civil engineering, chemistry and cognitive, neural and behavioral sciences. In addition to full tuition coverage, SMART students will receive health insurance, mentoring, internship opportunities and a guaranteed job offer from the Department of Defense. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA, be available for summer internships and are expected to accept the job position offered to them upon completing their education.
NOAA Office of Education’s student scholarship programs provide opportunities for undergraduate students to gain hands-on experience while pursuing research and educational training in NOAA-mission sciences. The Hollings and EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship share a common application and students who are eligible for both programs are encouraged to apply to both. To be eligible, you must be a sophomore at a four-year university program, a junior at a five-year university program or a community college student transferring to a university.
Amount: $9,500 per academic year plus paid summer internship opportunities
Number of Scholarships Given: Varies
Application Dates: Opens October 2022/Closes January 2023
Recognizing that financial aid alone cannot increase retention and graduation in STEM, the National Science Foundation (NSF) founded the S-STEM Program, a fund that provides awards to institutions of higher education (IHEs) to fund scholarships and to adapt, implement and study evidence-based curricular and co-curricular activities that have been shown to be effective in supporting recruitment, retention, transfer (if appropriate), student success, academic/career pathways and graduation in STEM. While most of the students who receive this award are studying an area of the STEM field, proposals can be made for funds to be given to students who meet the same qualifications, but are studying a high-demand industry. The amounts distributed depend on the institution.
Netflix is partnering with Formation to build a world where people from every walk of life have a seat at the table in tech.
Our program will be completely free of charge for students accepted. It is designed to unlock your engineering potential with personalized training and world-class mentorship from the best engineers across the tech industry.
The below information will be required, and adding why you want to land a New Grad Engineering role at Netflix.
The application requires:
Info about your experience, education, and background
Imagine you step into an elevator, and someone you professionally admire is standing inside. You exchange pleasantries, and she casually says, “So tell me about yourself.” It’s a broad question we’ve all heard, and a great answer can create new opportunities in both your professional and personal life. But you only have 30 seconds to impress your abilities upon this influential person. Are you able to articulate your strengths and accomplishments in that time? And can you naturally integrate an “ask” into the conversation?
Perfecting a response to such a general inquiry can be quite challenging, and it requires some thoughtful preparation. Having a solid answer to this question can help in many settings — in interviews, networking events, etc. — not just elevators.
To help you draft and complete an exceptional elevator pitch, here are three key steps you need to consider:
Step One: Brainstorm Your Skills
Let’s brainstorm your best qualities, skills and past performance highlights that you should mention in your elevator pitch. What comes to mind first? This is not exclusively for professional experience — maybe you are highly organized and efficient in your personal life. Perhaps you volunteer regularly in your community. List everything that you’re proud of or passionate about.
What do you enjoy doing? What are you great at?
What positive feedback have you received from an employer and/or teacher?
What are your greatest accomplishments?
Step Two: Personalize Your Answer
A personalized elevator pitch will make you memorable and relatable. Think about how you can stand out and look special amongst a large candidate pool. What makes you special and worth investing in over another applicant? We can refer to this as your “unique value proposition (UVP).”
Your UVP can be a professional qualification or certification, but it can also be a personal characteristic, such as intellect. Just make sure you quantify your claim with detailed, factual information. For example, if your UVP is that you are highly intelligent, make sure you follow that claim with quantifiable and relevant proof.
To develop your UVP, answer the following questions:
What does a hiring manager desire? Whether applying to an actual position or imagining your dream position, what is that professional position’s objective and/or purpose? Think about why the position exists and how it functions. What is the goal of someone in that position? You can follow an actual job description or imagine what a hiring manager would desire from such a candidate.
What do qualified candidates offer? What type of skills or abilities does a person need in this position? This can be anything from education to professional and life experiences. Think about what the perfect candidate would embody. You can follow the requirements listed in an actual job description or imagine what an ideal candidate would provide.
What unique abilities do you offer? What do you want to mention that is not detailed through your general qualifications and skills but makes you unique? While only listing skills, talents and/or hobbies relevant to the desired position, make sure to include extra details about yourself beyond the requirements contained in the job description.
When answering these questions, your overlapping answers are the best qualities to focus on for your UVP.
Step Three: Define Your Goal or “Ask”
What is the professional goal that you are currently working towards? This is a pivotal part of your elevator pitch. If the person to whom you are speaking is a hiring manager, your boss or someone who can help you attain your professional goals, what would you like to ask of them?
While your goal can be hugely aspirational, your “ask” requires someone else’s assistance, so remember to keep it reasonable. Ask for an informational interview to explore potential opportunities, rather than directly asking for a job, which could be seen as requesting preferential treatment. An elevator pitch is not an opportunity to set an expectation of another person; it’s an opportunity to prove yourself!
What is your short-term professional goal? What is your long-term professional goal? If you need more help defining goals, check out the YALI Network Online Course lesson “Setting and Achieving Goals.”
What is the career objective or your dream job?
What will help you achieve your objective or attain your dream job (e.g., internship, job, advice, reference, mentor)?
Put It All Together
Once complete, go back through these three exercises and highlight or circle the top points you want to emphasize in your elevator pitch. Pick one top point from each step, then place each part together in a smooth and natural dialogue. While having a written script helps draft what you wish to say, you won’t always have a precise script in front of you, so try to keep things conversational and light. Be sure to practice giving your elevator pitch in front of a mirror and with friends, family or colleagues.
Here are a couple of examples of strong elevator pitches. Make sure you tailor yours to speak about your own experiences, strengths, skills and goals!
Example 1: Hi, my name is [insert name]. I’m currently studying education, and I’m interested in securing a job that will allow me to continue teaching and developing lessons. One of my greatest strengths is my ability to make my courses very practical for my students, helping them apply these lessons in their communities. Because my former volunteer work with nonprofit programs was key to my success, it’s important for me to help others develop to their highest potential. Do you know of any education nonprofits where they are looking for someone like me to help others reach their potential?
Example 2: Hi, I’m [insert name]. I’m a Human Resources Manager at [insert company] looking for more experience in the field. I’m looking for advice on further expanding my expertise in this field because my ultimate goal is to help organizations develop more tolerant workplace cultures. My supervisors frequently compliment me for being able to see different sides of the same story and negotiate with different personalities.
So, you gave your elevator pitch? Great work! Don’t forget to exchange contact information with your new professional acquaintance, and always follow up with a thank-you note (if the acquaintance did you a favor).
Does your candidate screening process include checking out applicants’ social media? It’s a practice that has become common, but it introduces important ethical and legal considerations that employers should be aware of, along with potential impact on diversity and inclusion efforts.
Conducting general employment background checks is a well-established practice; they typically cover an applicant’s work history, credit history and possibly justice system involvement. But the practice of reviewing candidates’ social media accounts on platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook is much newer. Recent surveys indicate a majority of employers now use social media background checks to screen candidates, and that their findings range from alarming to impressive.
One use of social media information that seems particularly justifiable could be to eliminate candidates who demonstrate poor or even dangerous judgment and behavior in their personal life that might impact coworkers and the workplace if they were hired.
However, this — and any other — purpose for reviewing applicants’ social media raises the risk of legal liability because federal employment laws (including the Civil Rights Act and Americans with Disabilities Act) prohibit hiring based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability and more. Any of these characteristics would likely be visible on an individual’s social media, so searching candidates’ social media may increase the risk of discrimination, or appearing to discriminate, based on these qualities.
Companies may hire an independent service to conduct social media-based background checks, rather than perform them themselves. This is intended to shield the employer from seeing information about candidates’ protected status and preserve the legality of the hiring process. However, the employer is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the independent service and may also be required to disclose this practice to applicants in advance.
Some states bar employers from asking applicants for access to their social media usernames and passwords. However, employers may still conduct searches of information that is publicly available on social media. Besides legal risks, one of the primary arguments against social media background screening is implicit bias. To avoid recruiting based on stereotypes, it’s recommended that hiring processes follow the notion of “blind recruiting,” removing personal information as much as possible. Also called “anonymous
recruiting,” the concept keeps the focus on skills, work experience, education and training and other essential factors that affect how a candidate would perform on the job.
“Blind recruiting” excludes consideration of other features of job candidates that would not impact their ability to perform a job, such as appearance or political affiliation. These characteristics would also likely be apparent in social media and knowing this information about a candidate could compromise the ethics of a hiring process and impact an organization’s efforts toward expanding diversity and inclusion in hiring.
The job market is as different as ever, especially given the events of the last several years. Whether you’re looking to enter the workforce for the first time or want to make a career switch, it can be easy to become discouraged in the search for a job that is financially and market secure. As we enter 2023, take a look at some of the highest paying and most in-demand careers of the year and what you need to get started.
Nurse practitioners are primary or specialty care providers, delivering advanced nursing services to patients and their families. They assess patients, determine how to improve or manage a patient’s health and discuss ways to integrate health promotion strategies into a patient’s life. Nurse practitioners typically care for a certain population of people. For instance, NPs may work in adult and geriatric health, pediatric health or psychiatric and mental health. While nurse practitioners are predicted to be one of the most in demand jobs of the next year, the healthcare field in its entirety is growing rapidly.
Education and Experience: Nurse practitioners usually need a master’s degree in an advanced practice nursing field. They must have a registered nursing license before pursuing education in one of the advanced practical roles. Working in administrative and managerial settings can also be a great way to gain experience and move up in the field.
Data scientists are responsible for using analytical tools, scientific methods and algorithms to collect and analyze useful information for companies and organizations. Data scientists additionally develop algorithms (sets of instructions that tell computers what to do) and models to support programs for machine learning. They use machine learning to classify or categorize data or to make predictions related to the models. Scientists also must test the algorithms and models for accuracy, including for updates with newly collected data.
Education and Experience: Data scientists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, statistics, computer science or a related field to enter the occupation. Some employers require industry-related experience or education. For example, data scientists seeking work in an asset management company may need to have experience in the finance industry or to have completed coursework that demonstrates an understanding of investments, banking or related subjects.
Desired Skillset: Analytics, mathematics, computer skills, problem-solving, industry specific knowledge
Average Salary: $100, 910
Job Growth Rate: 36% (higher than average 8%)
Estimated Jobs Added from 2021-2031: 40,500
Information Security Analysts
Cybercrime is at an unfortunate all-time high. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, cybercrime has skyrocketed by 600 percent, creating a greater need for workers in cybersecurity. Information security analysts are responsible for planning and carrying out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. They work to maintain software, monitor networks, work closely with IT staff to execute the best protective measures and are heavily involved in creating their organization’s disaster recovery plan, a method of recovering lost data in a cybersecurity emergency.
Education and Experience: Information security analysts typically need a bachelor’s degree in a computer science field, along with related work experience. Many analysts have experience in IT. Employers additionally prefer hiring candidates that have their information security certification.
Desired Skillset: Established and evolving knowledge in IT, analytics, problem-solving, attention to detail
Average Salary: $102, 600
Job Growth Rate: 35% (higher than average 8%)
Estimated Jobs Added from 2021-2031: 56,500
If math comes easy to you, the field of financial management won’t be slowing down any time soon. Financial managers are responsible for the financial health of an organization or individual. They create financial reports, analyze market trends, direct investment activities and develop plans for the long-term financial goals. They often work with teams, acting as advisors to managers and executives on the financial decisions of a company. Financial Managers may also have more specific titles for more specific roles such as controllers, treasurers, finance officers, credit managers and risk managers.
Education and Experience: Financial managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in business, economics or a related field. These disciplines help students learn analytical skills and methods. Although not required, earning professional certification is recommended for financial managers looking to provide tangible proof of their competence. Having job experience as a loan officer, accountant or related job may also be helpful in becoming a financial manager.
Desired Skillset: Mathematics, organization, communication skills, attention to detail
Average Salary: $131, 710
Job Growth Rate: 17% (higher than average 8%)
Estimated Jobs Added from 2021-2031: 123,100
Computer and Information Research Scientists
Technology is advancing and its need exists in just about every industry. Computer and information research scientists design innovative uses for new and existing technology. They study and solve complex problems in computing for business, science, medicine and other fields. They design and conduct experiments to test the operation of software systems, frequently using techniques from data science and machine learning, often having expertise in programming and/or robotics.
Education and Experience: Computer and information research scientists typically need at least a master’s degree in computer science or a related field. In the federal government, a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for some jobs.
Desired Skillset: Mathematics, logical thinking, IT and AI experience, analytics
Average Salary: $131,490
Job Growth Rate: 21% (higher than average 8%)
Estimated Jobs Added from 2021-2031: 7,100
Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Emeritus Blog, Wikipedia
by Ben Laker, Will Godley, Selin Kudret and Rita Trehan
If you’re job hunting right now, chances are you’re also interviewing remotely. There are some serious upsides to this. You can avoid tardiness (no traffic snarls), reference notes without being too obvious and if you’re located in a rural area, you now have access to the same opportunities as city dwellers, saving you money.
There are also downsides. Combined with technical problems — like forgetting you’re unmuted or having a cat filter stuck on your face — virtual interviews can go horribly wrong.
Through our latest research on remote hiring, we wanted to know, given these pros and cons, how can job candidates really stand out during the virtual interview process?
Here are four practices you can use to turn your next virtual interview into a job offer.
1) Set up your space.
Have a clean, uncluttered background: Our advice here is not for you to start rearranging your entire room. Just find a spot that is simple and free of distractions. You can even choose a simple virtual background instead of propping yourself in front of a messy bookshelf. Contrary to previous research, we found that unconscious biases were less likely to creep into the decision-making process when candidates had a clean backdrop. 97 percent of the recruiters we spoke to preferred virtual backgrounds of office settings over beaches, mountains or outer space.
2) Prepare for the unexpected.
Keep notes handy, but don’t refer to them too often: During job interviews, it’s standard for recruiters to ask candidates for examples of their most impactful work. Don’t let this unnerve you in the moment. Create a printout or Word document of notes with crisp bullet points highlighting a few projects you want to share. Sort your projects under two or three headers: accomplishments, research and volunteer work.
We suggest no more than one page of notes. The goal is to refer to your notes minimally.
Use hand gestures: In our study, 89 percent of successful candidates used wide hand gestures for big and exciting points, while moving their hands closer to their heart when sharing personal reflections. Your body language can impact what you’re saying and how you come across. Our research also found that you can connect to your interviewer just by keeping an open posture and remembering not to cross your arms. Look into your webcam, not at your reflection. We recommend framing yourself in a way where you’re not too far from the camera (we suggest no more than two feet). Make sure your head and top of your shoulders dominate the screen, and as you’ve heard before, look into the camera when you speak.
4) Don’t perform a monologue; spark conversations.
Ask questions: There’s always an opportunity to ask questions about the office and the culture in an interview, but when you interview remotely, you’re going to be left with more questions than usual. Whatever you want to know, ask. Don’t worry about looking silly. The recruiter will appreciate your curiosity.
We suggest asking questions about the kind of technology you’ll have access to when working remotely, if you’d be working in a hybrid team or how success is measured at the organization. 85 percent of successful candidates asked these kinds of questions to demonstrate their values and priorities, while revealing vital bits of information about their personality. For example, you could ask, “Do you have a flexible work policy?” Then bookend your question with, “I’ve been volunteering as an English teacher for marginalized communities twice a week, and it would be great to be able to continue doing that.”
For better or worse, remote hiring is here to stay. While there are many unrivaled benefits to this, you need to do your bit to ace this relatively new process. Remember, trousers are optional, outstanding delivery is not.