Got my first job! Working at Global Ties Miami as a program manager

This story was published in FIU News by Yenisleidy Simon Mengana.

Name: Alexandra Ruiz

Hometown: Miami, Florida

Degree/Major: Bachelor’s in anthropology with a certificate in leadership studies, Global Learning Medallion graduate

Where are you working? Title? I am currently the program manager at Global Ties Miami, a nonprofit organization that works with the state department on international exchange programs. The mission of Global Ties Miami is to build bridges between people of different backgrounds that have similar passions and interests. We are dedicated to engaging with communities and sharing learning opportunities in order to help promote diplomacy and understanding that will, in turn, better our community and the world.

How did you get your job? I started as an intern in January of this year because I was taking an internship course at FIU and wanted to have some hands-on experience in a professional setting. I learned about this internship through the Global Learning newsletter. I was desperately trying to find an internship opportunity and Yeni, the Global Learning program manager, helped me apply for this internship, reviewing my resume and application. I had made connections with staff from the Global Learning office and because of those connections, I received help in many different areas including during my Global Learning Fellowship as well as during my time as a Millennium Fellow. After my internship with Global Ties Miami, I was going to do a summer internship with the Knight Foundation, but unfortunately, that was canceled because of the pandemic. I was blessed to be offered a permanent position with Global Ties Miami in April.

What was your greatest fear going into your first job, and how did you face it or overcome it? Onboarding into a new position in a completely remote setting is quite intimidating. Because I was not able to directly speak to my director and have in-person training, I was nervous I was going to mess up or do something wrong. The best thing I did to overcome that fear was just to communicate with my team. Ask questions and take it day by day. Everyone is willing to help and answer any and all questions as long as you speak up.

What surprised you the most about your first job? Our team is small but we get so much work done! Everyone does a little bit of everything, and I realized how much I enjoy working in a small team.

What advice do you have for those beginning the job search process? Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. I didn’t’t expect to work in the area of international exchange but in working here, I have realized another one of my passion, which is international topics and their intersections within the local community.

What does a day on the job look like? Since I work from home at the moment, my daily routine is a bit different than a normal day at the office. I work from 9 a.m. to 4 pm. Some days are busier than others but I always start with a cup of coffee to get me going. The schedule usually has team meetings, trainings/workshops, emails that need to be answered as I prepare virtual meetings for professionals around the world. I collaborate with program officers in Washington, D.C. and on occasion those working in the State Department’s Office of International Visitors’ Leadership Program to secure IVLP projects for South Florida.

How does your job connect back to your coursework? I majored in anthropology, and I don’t regret it one bit. I use the skills I acquired in my degree, from research to cultural awareness, every day in my job. My job has shown me the importance of being globally aware and has allowed me to meet and speak to people from all over the world.

How was your transition from school to work?How do you balance your time? It was a bit difficult mostly because I graduated during the pandemic and everything went by so quickly. Before I knew it, I had finished all of my classes and already working a normal 9-to-5-type job. I definitely do miss school, so I hope to go to graduate school next year. Balancing my time is not as hard as I thought it would be. I think my years of schooling prepared me for that part of having a professional job. Working from home has also played its role, so I try to work but also give myself time to take a walk, exercise and do something else that I find enjoyable.

What’s been the coolest thing about your job so far? One of my first projects at Global Ties Miami was reaching out to previous international alumni who had visited Miami and asking them about their experience in their countries during the pandemic. It was so humbling to receive so many responses from hopeful people from around the world. Even through this hardship, they were still looking on the bright side and giving it their all. Getting the opportunity to expand my horizons by meeting people from many different backgrounds is by far the best thing about my job.

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