How I Avoided Becoming a Statistic And Got Hired At The Coolest Company In Boston
I spent the first years of my life living with my grandmother in the Dominican Republic. My life changed dramatically when I was four years old—I was woken up in the middle of the night and was reunited with my parents in Puerto Rico. They moved to Puerto Rico because it was the only way for them to find hope and get out of the poverty we lived in. My earliest memories are of days spent roaming from place to place with my family and never settling down. Luckily enough, we traveled to the U.S. and landed just north of Boston in the city of Lynn, MA. After years of wandering, it was a relief to settle down, and be able to go to the same school every day.
While I was able to get an education at the local public schools, being an immigrant student still presented many obstacles for my future. I knew that I wanted be the first to graduate high school in my family and that I also wanted to be the first in my family to attend college. Yet as senior year arrived, I learned that I was not eligible to receive or apply for any type of financial aid for college because I was an undocumented student. I didn’t know my next step to achieve my goal.
Throughout my life, I have been fortunate to receive support from community members and, because of this, I’ve always known that my involvement in local programs was important. In high school, I attended Raw Art Works, an organization in Lynn that helps youth develop themselves through art. While in the program, I not only learned about film studies, but also gained access to resources that would help me overcome the financial obstacles in my path.
My mentors Masiel Encarnacion and Ryan Donnelly at Raw Art Works told me about Year Up, a program that provides low-income young adults with the skills, experiences, and support they need to succeed in professional careers. I thought that it sounded almost too good to be true. But it turned out to be a real opportunity to prove myself in spite of my undocumented status.
After being accepted into the program, I went from not being able to afford college to taking career-relevant classes and receiving a stipend. Additionally, the program took me off of the streets, made me feel empowered about my professional growth, and gave me the opportunity to earn an internship at CarGurus.com, the country’s #1 car shopping site. I’ve also learned a tremendous amount about professional behavior and was one the first interns in the entire country to participate in Year Up’s sales training program.
My training and internship with the pilot program were definitely challenging, but the work I put in was absolutely worth it. Year Up took me from working various mall jobs to learning about business-to-business sales at one of the coolest companies in Boston. At CarGurus I’ve learned about transparency, both in our products and in our culture, and the importance of being team-oriented while pushing myself to meet individual goals. I really have appreciated the supportive and collaborative culture here, and it is truly a place where I can be myself and feel ownership in my job.
With this culture in mind, my CarGurus mentors have pushed me to think deeper than I ever have before, and to start to consider what drives me as a person. Since I am the youngest employee in the company, I’m determined to prove that I can perform at the highest level among my team members here. Another asset that I bring is that I’m able to engage with the Spanish-speaking dealers around the country that we work with.
Since my first day, my mentors have encouraged me to think beyond CarGurus and consider where I want my life to be five years from now. While I don’t have that answer yet, I do know that within those five years I want to become a team lead here and grow in this company. My mentors have pushed me to think bigger than that and I also have goals of becoming a U.S. citizen and traveling to different parts of the world—especially to visit my native country, the Dominican Republic, with my family.
Looking back to how I got here and where I am today, I know I would have been just another statistic if it were not for organizations like Raw Art Works, Year Up, CarGurus, and the people that are a part of them. I now have the opportunity to become a role model to my peers and other immigrant students who may be going through the same challenges that I did. As a Year Up alumnus and ambassador, I am committed to helping other young adults find their path to career growth by bridging the Opportunity Divide.
Yunior Crispin Valdez is a Sales Development Representative at CarGurus.com.
The GradsofLifeVoice Forbes team provides thought leadership, research and expert commentary on innovative talent pipelines and related issues such as the skills gap, income inequality, workforce diversity, and the business case for employment pathways. We seek to change employers’ perceptions of young adults with atypical resumes from social liabilities to economic assets. This post was originally featured here.
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