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Jackie, Sales Proposals Senior Specialist, on fostering diversity and belonging

How have you felt supported at Qualtrics as an underrepresented minority in tech? What does being in tech mean to you as an URM and/or first generation student?

It's funny. I didn't think I would go into tech originally. I was focused on academia and research, since there's also a disparity of URMs (underrepresented minorities) in the higher education institution. Through a wild turn of events, I ended up at Qualtrics! Moving to Utah worried me as there isn't as diverse of a community compared to back home. Since being here, I've been connected with other Latinx transplants like myself both in and outside of the office. Starting out in Quni, we fortunately have a LOT of exposure to others from different backgrounds, and I found a little pocket of Latinx Quni where we could bond with one another. We would make plans and attend activities together where our schedules allowed us to do so. As I became a senior Quni, maintaining that connection and helping open that space for newer product specialists gave so much meaning and purpose to me because I was in their shoes before. It's not easy coming from a less privileged background and obviously sticking out amidst a crowd of more privileged groups; having a space where you feel like you belong, where you're valued, safe and comfortable amidst your colleagues is monumental, especially as Qualtrics continues to make more DEI initiatives. Let's face it, you probably are surrounded by your colleagues and peers for about the same amount of time as your loved ones - isn't it important to feel like you are seen, heard, and that you belong around them as well?

Tell us about a mentor that has influenced you. How have you mentored others in your community?

Since graduating from Quni, my new/current manager is absolutely amazing. Having leaders who are from first-gen or URM groups, who know that feeling of going up against a lot of obstacles based on things born onto you or circumstances out of your control, gives you a sense of pride and feeling that you DO belong, and you can aspire to achieve great things and grow and develop. You're not alone. I work in probably one of the most diverse teams at Qualtrics, and I cannot begin to say how grateful I am for that. I have learned so much from different members, and at the same time quite a few of us are bonded by experiences in our lives and upbringings, like talking about the lack of mental health resources and the stigma of growing up in a Latinx household. I didn't think I would be able to find other Latinx to relate to, and thanks to the efforts of my time to foster diversity and belonging, I truly feel like ONE TEAM.

How do you show up as your best self or how do you help others show up as their best self?

Self-forgiveness. I often put pressure on myself. Perhaps it's due to that burden first-gen and URM professionals feel to constantly achieve and work in order to make our ancestors and parents proud, and to show them we're honoring their sacrifices. I recall hardly sleeping at my apartment in college because I would spend 3-4 of the nights working in the library. I would find myself working on vacations once I entered the professional realm just because I had the mentality that I'm doing something wrong if I'm not working and I'm letting my family down. The reality is that we CAN'T do it all every single waking moment, and that is okay! Our struggles and sacrifices look very different, but they are still valid. You're not going to be 100% 24/7, but you can recognize that, forgive yourself and learn how to build in time for your rest. It's hard to get out of the mindset, but as with anything, self-forgiveness takes time and practice.

How has family played a role in your career/professional development?

We grew up in a (lower) middle class, working class family. My dad worked in the steel mills. My mom had different jobs working at the post office, as a hairstylist and a substitute teacher. My dad lost his job. We lost our house and had to live with our grandmother. Despite this, my parents never stopped grinding to provide for me and my brother and always hid their struggles from us. They didn't have the opportunity to go to school and encouraged us to continue our studies. Fortunately I was a nerd who loved books, so that fell into place in my path, but because they walked, I could run, and I always wanted to make them proud first and foremost. By having them see me accomplish things I am passionate about and not struggle as they did gives me that motivation to keep going forward. This is the story for my academic and my professional career. It wasn't easy and because of the pressure I put on myself to constantly achieve, I developed some not-so-great emotional tendencies. However, having the capacity and knowledge to seek out resources for emotional and mental well-being, which has been stigmatized for generations in the Latinx community, was a game-changer to help provide tools on how to be kinder and forgiving with myself and things that happen beyond my control. While it's still stigmatized in my family, I know and can tell that they are proud that I am working to better myself and achieve more.

How do you show up as your best self or how do you help others show up as their best self?

I show a lot of grace for myself and others even in high-stress moments. By having a space or a moment where I can take a step back, look from a different perspective, and forgive myself and others for any mistakes made along the way. I am a proponent of accepting failure and learning from it, instead of dwelling on it and beating myself up. For my colleagues, I emphasize that as well because we share the same tendencies to punish ourselves when something goes wrong. DON'T! Everything falls into place, and it's okay to take a breather and also ask for help! There is no shame!

What advice would you give to someone trying to break into tech and someone already in tech?

It's not roses and sunshine everyday. As a Latinx, you are one of the very few in this industry and your experiences vary greatly compared to your peers and colleagues. We have to fight stigmas and generalizations cast on our communities for generations. As progress is being made, you still have to fight to be seen and heard. Do not cave inward or be ashamed. Be loud, be proud, make your contributions known. Find the other Latinx colleagues in your space, and if there isn't any, make a space for yourself. As URMs, we have to work twice as hard always, and for our future generations, we need to fight the good fight to make these spaces easier and accepting. Sometimes it requires creating a space where there wasn't one previously and educating the importance of representation.

BUT, we constantly talk about the grind and struggle, but never EVER beat yourself up for needing help or rest. You don't want to burn out. Be kind to yourself, first and foremost. Practice grace. It will bring you a lot of peace and reprieve from working for so long.

What do you wish you could say to your past self?

The circumstances in which you were born and raised do not undermine your worth and contributions. You don't always have to put on a brave face and blame yourself even when horrible things happen out of your control. Allow yourself the space and time to feel and forgive yourself.

Qualtrics is growing, and if you're ready to find your "why" at a place like this, you can explore our open opportunities at any time by visiting our career page or by joining our talent community.

Qualtrics Life

Qualtrics Life is nothing more or less than a collection of the stories, experiences, and voices of the people of Qualtrics.

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