The year was 1990 when a young newlywed couple migrated to Miami, Florida with all their savings and an engineering diploma from the best engineering university in Peru. At the time, Peru was undergoing terrorism and financial turmoil that kept worsening by the day, and the young couple knew they had to leave the country to start their future family. This young couple is my parents.
I was born in 1994 while my parents were still undocumented. They worked at a factory before I was born, and once I came into the world, my mom bought and tailored jeans while my dad sold them at a flea market seven days a week.
I grew up seeing my parents cry at the dinner table because they missed their families. I sat by my mom watching “I Love Lucy” as she tailored jeans late at night, and I witnessed them counting coins at the dinner table as they struggled to pay rent for our one-room apartment.
My mom was able to attend Florida International University while she was pregnant with my baby brother, and my dad continued making ends meet at the flea market. He would later attend FIU to win back his career after my mom graduated.
I remember sitting beside my pregnant mom at the FIU library, coloring while she studied. I later remember seeing her smile down at me in her cap and gown the day of her graduation. Looking back at my childhood, I thank my parents for instilling in me the skills and lessons to building a successful career.
Here's a list of a couple of lessons I have learned from them throughout my 21 years:
1. Be dedicated.
My dad sent in over 80 resumes to different companies before he got hired at his first job. My parents never once gave up.
They had everything going against them: financial problems, language barriers and adjusting to a new country. They didn't let anything stop them from getting to where they are today.
2. Your first job won't always be the ideal job.
My parents' first engineering job wasn't all they were expecting. For one, their position was as environmental technicians (not what they studied), and the pay wasn't all that great.
However, their first engineering job opened many doors for them in the future. My mom now works for a company that has 26 offices all over the United States.
My parents taught me how to professionally shake someone's hand and how to carry myself in a professional manner. I was taught from a young age that, when it came to being professional, it was better to overdress than underdress.
My mom is my stylist when it comes to slacks and blazers. Currently, my parents are the first people who revise and correct my resumes and cover letters because they've seen quite a few during their professional careers.
4. Losing a job is always an opportunity.
My dad lost his job twice. Once was during a one-year period in 2011, and the second time was in 2014 for about half a year. My family suffered greatly because it cut our family income by more than half.
I remember being a teenager and watching my dad apply for jobs every day for an entire year. He would spend all day contacting other engineers, and he was always in a suit preparing for interviews. It taught me how to always prepare yourself for a new opportunity, even when your circumstances seem hopeless.
5. Always say yes to new responsibilities.
My parents seize every opportunity they are given at their workplace, whether it be taking on more tasks or going out of town for a conference. They always say yes to challenging themselves in their workplace, while aiming to become better engineers because they fought hard to get to their positions. This go-getter spirit is something I truly admire and wish to incorporate into any future job.
My parents story is unique and one not many immigrants are able to achieve. The “American Dream” still remains a dream to many immigrants in this country, but for my parents, it has become a reality.
They were fortunate enough to become citizens of this country a year after I was born, lifting a great weight off their shoulders. They took out loans, worked hard and were able to win back the career they fought for and buy a house to call their own. Today they are successful engineers, and I could not be more proud to call them not only my parents, but also my professional mentors.