Prouder of Who I Am Than I Have Ever Been

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Valerie J. Toledo, COL ’19

This summer, while interning at d’expósito & Partners I realized not only a love for the advertising industry, but for the Hispanic advertising industry.

d’expósito & Partners is a Hispanic advertising agency both inside and out. Walking into work every morning felt like entering the home of a relative. It was as if someone had bottled up my native Miami and placed it there for me to enjoy. Pero likesand Dales flew around the office in every conversation, Hellos and Goodbyes were always accompanied by besitos, and one of my supervisors wore the same guayaberas to office parties that my Abuelito wears to his job interviews. We referred to each other as d’familia in emails, and World Cup matches were streamed during internal meetings (albeit silently). It was a place to intern, but it was also a temporary home for a young Cuban woman who felt overwhelmingly alone in New York City.

Dex was a comfortable place to work, but it was by no means lethargic. Like at any advertising agency, hard work is a constant, and they manage high stakes deals and clients with high standards. There’s just no need to hide behind a practiced accent or stoic American expression. Because their clients depend on them to provide Hispanic insight and check that messages aren’t tone deaf, they don’t have to change who they are to gain clients’ respect.

In addition to the intrinsic cultural insight that comes from being Hispanic, there is the Hispanic or Latino work ethic. Most of us are immigrants, or our parents are, and so we were raised to understand the meaning of sacrifice and of perseverance in every situation. Everyone at Dex puts their best foot forward because it is second nature to them, and in doing so are proving to our challengers that , Latinos hacen buen trabajo. In my opinion, the work ethic exhibited by that agency inspires those in the industry, and I know it attracts other minorities who have the same understanding of what it means to struggle for something. 

On a more technical level, this internship at Dex taught me that within the Hispanic advertising industry, strategy is the trade I want to learn, a craft that marries research with creative thinking. Because I speak the language and know the customs, gaining insights that will lead to creating effective Hispanic marketing strategy won’t be as difficult as task as it might be for someone who doesn’t have those same experiences that I do. While I know that it’s important to step back from my own personal experiences in order to be objective, I also know that these experiences can equate to a form of cultural common sense.

Estoy orgullosa. I’m prouder of who I am than I have ever been, and I attribute that to this summer. My trademark Cuban loudness is not vulgar, it is what enables me to speak up in a meeting. My socioeconomic status is not a disadvantage, but a privilege when I consider how it has forced me to manage resources carefully and be sensitive to others. My bicultural identity does not make me foreign to the way things are, but rather, opens up doors of opportunity and visions of the way things could be. I hope to return to the world of Hispanic advertising after I graduate, because in that world, being myself is an asset.

By Career Services
Career Services