In this interview, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Maira Enriquez, an alum of our December 2021 cohort. She is currently working at Trek10 as a Customer Success Manager.
You work in a project management position for a startup, but that’s not the world you grew up in.
I’m from a small town in the Central Valley of California. My parents are from Mexico and are farmworkers to this day. I grew up around a lot of poverty and my objective in life has been to give back to them and try to break that generational cycle.
It seems like you were on track to do this when you left for college.
I got my degree in Communication Disorders and Deaf Studies at Fresno State. Initially, I wanted to become a speech therapist because I have slight hearing loss. Unfortunately, counselors at my school told me my 3.5 GPA would never get me into a master’s program which broke a lot of my hopes and aspirations. I honestly didn’t know what to do when I graduated and I felt stuck.
What happened after you graduated?
I was a Community Education Specialist Project Manager at UC Davis for five and a half years and developed a really great relationship with my supervisor. Fifteen years later we still keep in touch. But while I was working there she left her position and was replaced by someone who I didn’t have as strong of a connection with. I started feeling that not getting the support I needed seemed like a recurring pattern.
I previously went through a personal weight loss journey of 65 pounds. As I continued my university job I began training clients to help them lose weight and start seeing the value in themselves. It’s been six years since I became a personal trainer.
How did the pandemic affect your work momentum?
I was in a really toxic relationship that I didn’t have time to process because of my 4am - 5pm workday (80 plus hours a week). Being raised in poverty, I thought I had to burn myself out to make ends meet. I also missed having in-person sessions with my clients.
You were practically homeless during this time too.
I split time between living on my friend’s couch and with my ex. After 11 years of being in the same apartment I had to leave because the rent was about to double. I looked for a new place but couldn’t compete with people who were willing to pay rent for months in advance. I was scrolling through TikTok one day and found School16.
So you found School16 during a pretty chaotic time in your life.
Yes. Then I started thinking, do I want to go back to school and get a master’s degree and be in a lot of debt? Because I already have thousands of dollars in student loans. Or, should I go to School16 and see what I learn?
When the program began I decided to try customer success. I’m really happy School16 helped me find related skills and make great connections. I went from starting the program last December and living on couches to leaving that toxic relationship, buying my own place, and starting a new role within the last month.
Congratulations! What an inspirational personal and professional accomplishment you’ve made over the past few months. What advice would you give to people who are looking for a new role or settling into one like yourself?
Ask what the employer's retention rates are, and if it’s important to you, what metrics they use to measure equality and inclusivity. It’s important to really know the job description, not just what it’s portrayed to be. Maybe you’re excited you got the role, but it’s nothing like you thought it would be? You can develop your skills while you’re there and decide to move on later.