Fierce Boss Ladies

Crucial Lessons I Learned About Being A Boss Lady From The World’s Worst Jefa

“I’m positive she’s the world’s meanest boss,” I thought to myself every day and often voiced to my partner, friends and parents about my jefa of two years.

At the time, I was working at a boutique (read: small) agency in Tempe, Arizona that had enticed me with its cute office décor, a team of perky mid-twenties and a boss lady with an impressive résumé. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that her grand CV also included skills like “Regularly makes employees cry” and “Capable of causing minor panic attacks after a 15-minute meeting.” 

“Vanessa,” she would call from her office, always reminding me of that scene in “The Devil Wears Prada” where Meryl Streep’s character softly beckons and everyone is expected to drop everything and run in there. In our office, the volume was louder, but the effect was the same. 

I would speed-walk in her office, clutching my notebook so I could write down all of the things she didn’t like about whatever project I had just finished. “Just a few changes,” she would say, and then proceed to rip apart the entire document with orders to have it back to her by end of day because “it really shouldn’t take too long.”

Nothing was ever good enough and, what was worse, she expected 24/7 availability from her employees if she decided she needed us — no exceptions for days off, vacations or even funerals.

But with time and distance, I’ve come to realize that, although working for her was mostly miserable, the experience wasn’t a total waste. While I can file the majority of what I learned from her under “Things I’ll never do as a boss,” if I try hard enough, I can also remember some of her best traits.

Here, four lessons — though gained with blood, sweat and way too many tears — I learned from the world’s most cabrona boss. 

1. Claim your place as queen bee.

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This was a woman who would never be served cold food, let alone the wrong item, without emerging with a free meal and a gift card for her next one. If things weren’t exactly perfect, you can bet someone would have to pay, and it definitely wouldn’t be her. As her employee, this translated to lots of late nights perfecting presentations and reports (as well as a chronic tooth-grinding habit). But on the other side of the coin were the inevitable perks and royal treatment that extended to me, too, any time we went anywhere together.

2. “Immediately” is not soon enough.

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This lesson, probably the most valuable, was the one I learned most quickly. Coming from a previous job mired in bureaucracy, I was used to flexible deadlines and projects that took forever to complete. So when I first started working for the boss in question, I fell into my old habits of working hard on the fun tasks and procrastinating the awful ones. News flash: this will not make you employee of the month. You can bet that after the first few times I got yelled at for moving too slowly on my projects, I learned to do the hard stuff first and do it fast. A skill, I should add, that has served me well in every job and personal project since. 

3. Delegation is critical.

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In our office, we had a small sitting area with some couches and chairs. I can still remember the resentment I felt looking at my boss laying on the yellow couch in the middle of the afternoon having “a little nap” as I typed away furiously on something that I would inevitably have to take home to finish anyway. “What does she even do all day,” my co-worker and I would groan to each other after meetings in which every task and project was assigned to us. But now I’ve come to realize: being great at delegating is not just a skill; it’s an art. Sometimes it seems easier just to do things yourself—you know it will get done right, and you don’t have to spend time training anyone or explaining what you meant. No, this is not how a true jefa thinks. Get those tasks off your plate and save your valuable time for world domination. 

4. Use your voice.

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One day, in a room full of men in suits, I searched desperately for something brilliant and profound to add to the conversation. “You can’t say that,” my inner voice scolded, “it’s so obvious, it isn’t even worth saying.” Just then, I heard my boss say the exact thing I had been thinking but hadn’t said. I watched as everyone in the room nodded enthusiastically, appreciating this bit of wisdom. This is the final lesson: trust in your expertise and speak up. The world needs to hear that perspective that only you have. 

Would I ever want to go back and work for her? Hell no. But I am grateful for what I learned during a critical period of growth. As Shakespeare wrote, “And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn / any hard lesson that will do thee good.” And what I took from the world’s meanest boss were some pretty valuable lessons after all.

Read: Meet Jorlaney Oquendo, The 7-Year-Old Puerto Rican Who Started A Lemonade Business To Help Her Community

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10 Political Careers That Don’t Require An Election Latinas Should Consider

politics

10 Political Careers That Don’t Require An Election Latinas Should Consider

The vast number of women who ran — and won — races for public office this election year has inspired countless other ladies to consider careers in politics. The fresh interest, and confidence, to pursue a path in government is without-a-doubt a step in the right direction, as studies have repeatedly shown that women improve the way our branches govern. But just because someone is interested in serving their community and creating political change, doesn’t necessarily mean they want to run for office. For some, the profession is simply too time-consuming, expensive or just not of interest to them, and that’s OK, because political jobs extend far beyond elected positions.

Here, non-elected careers in politics that Latinas should consider — because our brilliance, talents, perspectives and voices are needed if we are going to see real progress in local, state and federal politics.

1. Chief of Staff

A chief of staff is an assistant to the president or legislator. This is the elected official’s right hand wo-man, acting as a top adviser and overseeing hiring, office management, budgeting, administration and operation. To make it to this top-level position, though, you usually have to start from the bottom.

2. Legislative Aide

Behind members of Congress are legislative staff, a group of smart individuals who aid the elected officials on the issues, from gun control and immigration to education, reproductive health and more. This entry-level job includes a lot of research, writing, briefing and tracking of legislation. Basically, you really have to know your ish!

3. Policy Analyst

The job of a policy analyst is also filled with tons of research, but most of the time these are more issue-specific experts who conduct the work, like research, surveying data, analyzing existing and proposed policies and reporting information to a legislator or candidate that’ll allow them to better identify, create and implement policy.

4. Speechwriter

Most candidates and politicos don’t write their own speeches. For that, they usually hire someone, or a team, with A-1 writing and persuasion skills. In this competitive, and more-difficult-than-you-might-think, gig, the speechwriter must be able to pen talks that are at once optimistic, noncontroversial, eloquent and engaging, newsworthy and still understandable to someone with a middle school reading level.

5. Communications Coordinator

There are many different positions and levels to a communications team, but this area is reserved for those with impeccable writing, editing and communication capabilities. These are the folk who write a candidate’s or elected official’s press releases and newsletters, who speak with and coordinate interviews with the press, who implement communications strategies, lead event communications and are also putting in the multifaceted social media work.

6. Campaign Manager

For those with excellent administrative and operational skills who are more interested in helping get qualified candidates into office, a job as a campaign manager could be your calling. These are the folk behind a candidate’s campaign and are necessary for individuals running at all levels of government. Broadly, they develop, plan and implement a political campaign, which requires them hiring and managing staff, budgeting, logistics, technology and help to get out the vote.

7. Fundraising Director

If your a money’s gal, there’s a candidate out there in need of your brain. A fundraising director helps those running for elected office raise dinero, developing and implementing a money-raising plan through growing the candidate’s web of donors, setting up fundraisers and managing their database.

8. Field Organizers

If your background is in grassroots organizing, a start-off gig as a field organizer may be an easy transition. These individuals are the face of a political campaign for a community. Field organizers unite people around a common goal and work to make it a reality by finding, training and scheduling volunteers and sometimes overseeing workers within a region or state.

9. Elections Manager

If you’re more interested in protecting citizens’ voting rights in your community than working with a candidate or holder of elected office, you might be gripped by a position as an elections manager. On this gig, you ensure the voting process runs smoothly and lawfully. To do this, you’d likely oversee who works at your county’s voting centers, ensure privacy and comfortability for voters and get results in efficiently.

10. Diplomatic service officer

Prefer foreign affairs over local and domestic issues? Diplomatic service officers live in other countries, where they represent the interests of the U.S. and its citizens as well as provide advice to ministers developing foreign policy. For this job, great communication skills, language proficiency and cultural sensitivity are a must.

Read: 6 Reasons Why You — Yes, Hermana, You — Should Run For Office

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