Profile: Carmen Chavez- UCLA Latina Alumna

Do you dream of having a job within the entertainment industry? Have you ever considered a job in Communications, maybe at NBCUniversal or FOX Sports? Lucky for you, Carmen Chávez is here to provide insight on her experiences for guidance!

As a first-generation woman of color, Carmen has defied the odds and continues to strive and inspire young ladies to achieve their goals. In the Spring of 2013, Carmen graduated from UCLA with a double major in Sociology and Spanish. By having vision, passion and drive, she continuously breaks barriers. With that said, below she shares her experiences on how she got to where she is today and how she continues to follow her dreams within the business world.

Her Campus: What activities were you involved in on- and off-campus? How did these experiences at UCLA help you enter the field that you are in now?

Carmen Chá​vez: One of the main activities I was involved in was outside of UCLA, which was Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT). I participated in the Career Prep program, which is a program that is geared towards helping minority students have the opportunity to develop the skill sets, knowledge and professional development to enter the business field.

I worked with a coach in the organization that helped me prepare to apply for an internship between the summer of my junior and senior year. They also help you find full time offers post-graduation. For me it was beneficial because I knew I wanted to go into business. I wasn't sure in what area at that time, but when you’re going through the program you learn about consulting, finance, nonprofits, media and entertainment and the latter is where I was ultimately really interested in moving forward with after completing that program. As far as UCLA, what I really appreciated as far as my time there was the leadership role opportunities I took on in different organizations. I am a member of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Incorporated. I joined this organization during my freshman year of college and was a part of it throughout undergrad, and I am still actually involved with it now. It’s important to have that network especially as a first-generation Latina. Moving from San Diego to Los Angeles was a very big deal for me and I think not having family in the area was hard. They became my second family and through that I was Vice President my junior year, so that really challenged me to be able to know what it is to be such a senior leader in the group. For instance, learning how to deal with expectations for your own organization, managing different activities from educational programs to charity events, engaging in social opportunities, and also working alongside different organizations across the Greek Councils. Overall, it has been a great opportunity! Even though you think it might only be applicable while you’re in undergrad, these skill sets transfer to the professional world. You tend to have that sense of comradery- I think that’s very important. Being a part of LTA made me become more confident in taking other leadership roles.

HC: What was your first entry-level job and how did you get it?

CC: My first entry level job was though NBCUniversal in the Page Program. Through the program [MLT], I was working towards securing internships in entertainment and I interned with Mun2 in NBCUniversal [however, it no longer exists] but it was a bicultural, bilingual network and through that internship I found out about the Page Program. There are two locations - one in Los Angeles and another in New York - and I applied to both. I was offered an interview for the New York program so I flew out to that in April of my senior year. You do a group interview so you have to respond in front of other people and present a mini-bio. I think it pushed me to experience something different. The purpose of that was to show how well you presented and if you are able to communicate in front of groups. Having this opportunity as my first job in the entertainment industry was really important because it was a one-year rotational program. You can do different assignments from news, to production, to marketing and so on. It really gives you the opportunity to try out how those roles look like in different areas of the company. NBCUniversal is a part of Comcast, but NBCUniversal in itself is huge. There are different cable networks from USA, Bravo, Oxygen, to film divisions, such as Universal Pictures and a lot more. I was able to maximize that opportunity and I think at the end of it I completed six assignments. The one that was most important to me was the communications assignment at USA Network. I was able to complete this assignment at the end of the program, which was great as it was the area I wished to pursue. As a result, I was able to secure a role at Bravo and Oxygen. It was a great pipeline as far as really building your skillset and networking with people internally.

HC: What did your last job entail? Was there such a thing as a typical day?

CC: At FOX Sports, I was a Brand Communications Manager and the nature of that role is how you deal with presenting the overall brand given all the various subdivisions from sports properties to live events to documentaries to digital content. In this role, I had to connect and communicate with outside media and other influential voices and business partners to amplify the profile of FOX Sports. I was responsible for pitching and securing coverage to bring various public sectors an increased understanding of FOX Sports' work. I created and executed strategic communications plans and crafted forward-thinking messaging and work in support of the company's businesses initiatives.

HC: Why pursue an MBA at this point in your career? What is the next goal after grad school?

CC: It really goes back to my experience as an undergrad. As I mentioned, I am a first-generation college student so when I was an undergrad, it was really important for me and my family to be at UCLA knowing this was an accomplishment for everyone not just for myself. At that point I had always thought about what was going to be next for me. Pursuing a career in entertainment and media was an objective at that time and I’ve had a great career at NBCUniversal and at FOX Sports, so I think that throughout my six years of working and starting off with my thought process in wanting to work in communications changed. I think that it's important to know overall that just because you start off in one area, it doesn't mean you have to stay in that area for the rest of your life so that's something I have been contemplating. What’s really going to get me to the point of that next step is going to business school. What I am hoping to do in the long run is to work in multicultural marketing. That is an interest of mine given my own background. I think knowing you can develop marketing campaigns that target a diverse audience is important instead of creating over-generalized campaigns especially in this day in age.I think it’s important in understanding different cultures and taking that into account.

HC:  As a Latina, were there any struggles you had to overcome to get where you are now?

CC:  As a first-generation immigrant, you're doing things on your own without much guidance from parents or family because they have never been in these shoes. One of my personal struggles has been working in a corporate setting. It mainly has to do with the fact that everything I have done up to this point has been a first. I wasn't able to rely on my parents for guidance as far as how to dress, how to have certain conversations, negotiating a salary and how to manage a work-life balance. These things have been learning experiences for me. I think in general, as a first-generation woman of color, those are the things that play into how those points are addressed when you’re a working professional. The biggest struggle for me is in wanting to make sure I am doing a good job, representing Latinas in the best light and wanting to keep pushing forward. Overall, if I’m making advances on my end, then I am able to help other Latinas. This includes having the influence in being able to give back and coaching people on how to have these conversations or giving recommendations and suggestions. It’s one of the things that I think I really struggled with and looked for in a mentor.

HC: What advice would you give to young college students with similar aspirations within business and entertainment?

CC: I definitely recommend looking into MLT. As I mentioned before, I think it’s an important program that is there to help minorities break into the business world. It is definitely crucial if you’re looking into entertainment and media opportunities. I would recommend the Page Program as well. I think that you will have the opportunity to get a well-rounded experience in figuring out what area you would like to pursue in the long run. It’s important to leverage these connections for future opportunities. I recommend networking, such as the entertainment networking night event that happens in the Spring. First and foremost, take advantage of the resources at UCLA, the career center as well and outside of that. At the end of the day it's not who you know, but who knows you.

Thank you, Carmen, for being such an inspiration to young women. As a proud Latina, you inspire all of us to defy the odds. Congratulations on your acceptance to UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. We look forward to hearing the amazing things you’ll continue to do! Again, muchas gracias.