Latino Leadership Association Takes on the Job Hunt
The Latino Leadership Association has always been known for throwing a good party. Each year during Welcome Weekend, the LLA holds a Latin-themed bash for incoming students, cementing its reputation for hospitality and fun. But in the last two years, the club has become much more than a place for students from Latin America to come and feel at home. It has evolved into a professional club as well, beginning its training of incoming students in finding a good internship months before they even arrive on the Yale SOM campus.
The overhaul began with the realization that the club wasn't adequately serving all the needs of Latino students at SOM. Many had no experience job hunting in the United States. "Throughout Latin America, it isn't normal for people to do informational interviews," said Patricio Gonzalez '11, one of three club co-presidents. "Here, if you don't do them, you're not going to get on the list for internship interviews. It's important for students to learn to network in ways completely different than from back home. Those of us who have been through it can provide invaluable advice, which is ultimately what the changes in the club are about."
The new approach begins as soon as a Latino student is admitted. The SOM admissions office provides the names of Latino students to the club, which then passes them on to students either from the same country or in the industry the recruit is targeting. Students make calls pitching the school, explaining how its small size makes adjusting to a new culture easier, as well as touting the strength of the integrated curriculum. These contacts lead to more formal mentor relationships once a student enrolls. The process continues from there, with résumé critiques, tips on interviewing, and contacts with alumni. The idea, said Gonzalez, is for Latino students to be some of the best prepared out there when the internship process begins in earnest in the fall. "In years past, it's been harder for Latino students to navigate the process, but we've completely changed that," he said. "Recruiters have told us that our Latino students are among the best they've met with."
In addition to sessions on interviewing and résumés, the club provides a number of databases — for résumés, recruiting guidebooks, and alumni — that are open to all students at the school. The LLA has long included American-born Latino students and sees also inviting non-Latinos to participate in all events and programs as part of the Latin American ethos. The club has also worked with Latino clubs throughout the greater Yale community to form partnerships, collaborate on initiatives, and celebrate major Latin American holidays. The club recently participated in a talk by the co-head of Goldman Sachs' investment banking division in Latin America, which focused on the region's economy and potential opportunities there. LLA members are also involved in SOMUnity, a series of events celebrating the school's diversity, and the SOM Diversity Task Force. Gonzalez said that LLA members are always looking for new ways to get involved and make the experience for Latino students better. "SOM is a special place and one of the things that makes it so great is its diversity," he said. "So not only do we celebrate our culture, we celebrate all the other cultures here. We teach others about what makes us unique, and everyone is better for it."