Archive for November, 2007

It’s all about…

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007


Welcome to the Marielablog. This is my way of staying in touch with you. Maybe you read one of my books, saw me at a presentation or on TV, maybe you read one of my articles in the several publications to which I contribute and you were left wanting to know more about a topic. Well, here is where you can ask your questions, make comments and contribute your own opinions on the issues that I cover.  

For me, it’s all about helping Latinos navigate the American system so they can succeed at all levels.  So, I’ll be writing about job search, career advancement and education as my main topics and I will continue to expand them as time goes by and needs arise. I will use this forum to share my experiences on the road as I learn more about students, parents and professionals who I meet during my travels. Here you will also learn about future presentations and media appearances.  Thanks for visiting and come back often to visit with me! Saludos, Mariela.

My Children Are not Interested in Anything

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007


I hear this complain from parents of teens all the time. Yet, I think that the truth is not so much that teenagers are not interested in anything as the fact that they don’t know how to connect that in which they are interested with a possible career field.

The big challenge for parents is first to observe their kids behaviors to identify talents and interests. For example: Is the child detail oriented? Does he/she enjoy doing research? (Maybe she could look into lab work or research careers in various fields.) Does he/she prefer outdoor activities? (Maybe he needs to explore the building industry, or tourist industry.) Does he/she spend hours preparing parties and get togethers with their friends? (Look into event planning or public relations.) Does he/she love to play video games? (He/she could explore graphic design.)

Once you have identified an inclination (or several), you can help them research all the possible careers within a certain field. For instance, I met a senior high school student on the plane a few weeks ago, and when I asked him “What would you like to study?”, he said: “I’m only interested in sports and in working out. My mom says I should be a gym teacher. And I think maybe I will because that’s an easy job.”  After I told him that doing an easy job could lead to boredom and frustration, I explained a few other options: “You could be a TV sports producer, a sports writer for a newspaper or magazine, you can work for a company that manufactures sporting goods, you can be a coach, or an athlete, you can work at a company that sells sports memorabilia or at one that organizes sports events, you can even be a sports doctor.”

As you see, there are so many opportunities within one field, that the idea is to open teenagers’ eyes to what is out there.To get help, I suggest that you visit your local library and get a hold of the Occupational Outlook Handbook, you can also find it online: It is a directory published by the federal government which lists all the occupations in the country with the education requirements, the description of the job, the income you can expect and the projected growth of that position in the future. You may also encourage your kids to try some of the interest inventory software programs that are available at high schools across the country: is one of them. So if you can, find people who are work in the field in which your child shows interest and see if they can spend some time with him/her talking and taking them to work to continue making the connection with the real world. Helping your kids make this connection is the best way to encourage them to continue studying.

Watch your Image on the Internet

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

A couple of weeks ago, while doing a keynote presentation at the National Hispanic Business Association in Chicago, I had a chance to listen to William Arruda, co-author of Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building your Brand. He talked about something I believe is crucial for everyone looking to move forward in their careers: you need to increase your relevance on the Internet but you need to be careful about how you do that.There are many examples of people whose reputations got ruined after their bosses found out inappropriate material on My Space or Facebook.

One of the latest cases, an intern who told his boss he had a family emergency and wouldn’t be able to come to work for a couple of days. The boss visited the intern’s My Space page and found a picture of the young man in his Halloween costume, a picture he had just posted the day before when he was supposed to be taking care of his family. The boss circulated the picture and the email exchange between him and his intern (he pasted the picture on his reply) and it is now circulating all over the Internet. How easy it is to have one’s reputation damaged by carelessness!So, when trying to increase your presence on the net (doing things like having your own website with your own name if possible, creating pages on My Space, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social and professional networks) be careful with the information you post. Keep your pages private so that they are not visible by the general public and people have to get your permission to see your photos, videos or written materials.  In this informational age, everything you do or say can end up on the Internet. It doesn’t just happen to Britney Spears. So here are some things to watch for: 

  1. Don’t talk badly about anyone or share gossip via email. Emails can be forwarded and posted and you never know where they will end up.

  2. Avoid public spectacles because cell phones with cameras are ubiquitous and you never know who will shot a picture of you and make you regret having accepted that extra drink.

  3. When posting pictures, videos and text on your website or any other website, be mindful of who may be reading it. Would you want your boss to find out that information? 

RMHC/HACER Workshops

Friday, November 16th, 2007

During the last few weeks I’ve been traveling around the country to present to parents of high school students at the RMHC/HACER workshops. These workshops, sponsored by McDonald’s and organized and implemented by the Hispanic Scholarship Fund offer students and their parents information about getting to and paying for college.  

We’ve been in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Antonio, Tampa and New York City. It has been an awesome experience to see the amount of people who turned out to join us. We had between 650 and 1100 participants at each event with a huge turn out of parents (both mothers and fathers!) and students from middle school to high school. It shows that Latinos are very interested in supporting their children’s education but sometimes they lack the knowledge on how to do it. Given the opportunity, they say: “Estamos presentes”, we are present, and they are making their support count. Parents had lots of questions about how to get scholarships, what is a mentor, what to do if their children don’t know what they want to study, etc., and they left inspired and full of valuable information to support their kids on the road to college.

Things I feel we all need to learn more about are: community organizations where students can become volunteers; companies that offer internships for high school students; mentoring organizations for teens who want to go to college; organizations that function like a “guidance counselor” and can guide parents through the college application process because most guidance counselors are overwhelmed and can only provide limited assistance. If you know of any great groups or companies that fulfill these requirements, please let me know.I’ll pass the info around in our next series of workshops coming up next year, and also, through my TV segments and columns.