"We need to start speaking up"
As the Assistant Director of Drexel University’s Graduate Career Services at the LeBow College of Business, it’s rare Raquel Arredondo isn’t creating a plan of action. Whether she’s working on building relationships or helping students put their best professional foot forward, Arredondo is making things happen.
But Arredondo will tell you it’s not always an easy path to get there. A certified yoga instructor, Arredondo has mastered the art of trusting the process and spreading that self-confidence and trust in self to the women and men she works with daily.
Her rise to success is proof that trusting yourself is the only way to get ahead.
Learn more about Raquel Arredondo below.
Can you tell us more about your career path and how you got there?
My career path has gone between both higher education and corporate- I can’t say coming out of my undergraduate program that I knew I wanted to do this. [...] I think I wanted to do what I’m doing now as a result of not knowing and finding my way. Right out of grad school, I took a position with Penn State University that I absolutely loved. It was in student affairs and I was at home there And the n I started to get a little greedy and I went to the corporate world and went for recruiting. So I was home for about 5 years when I received a call from Rutgers University who remembered me - I always maintained my contacts in the area - and he asked if I would be willing to come out of retirement and it really fell into my lap. [...] And years later I was at a cocktail party and I got to my position at Penn.
What's the most rewarding part of your career for you?
I’m very black and white in my thinking, I don’t like grey. So I’m always trying to find the solution or play that role. And I find that in my position whether it’s a student that's not getting any interview requests and I look at her resume and pinpoint exactly what’s going on there, you know to me something that’s as simple as re-formatting and re-phrasing or it’s we’ve been trying to connect with this organization and we haven’t had any luck what can you do? The opportunity to make something happen that maybe someone may not have had that opportunity to do that.
What was your dream job as a kid and why?
My dream job as a kid was to be a beauty parlor. My mom was a beautician in Manhattan, and so when I was younger I would hear about that. She had this very glamorous clientele. But she ended her career and we moved out of New York. I can’t say that there was any specific career path
What woman currently inspires you and why?
I’ve always been attracted to and inspired by women that didn’t fit that mold. Women that spoke up. Women that fought back. It’s hard to say there was one specific individual but those characteristics inspire me.
How have the women in your life shaped you?
I wouldn’t say it was just one woman. But I’ve pulled a lot of inspiration from traits from other women.
Who were your mentors?
A lot of my motivation comes from my father. He was the individual that was out there working and successful. He came here from Cuba when he was 18 and really forged a path for himself. So learning about the sacrifices he made - seeing how successful he became professionally, I felt responsible to live up to those expectations.
Who has been the most influential woman in your life?
Again I can’t say one woman inspires me. It’s a mix of women that influence me now and have influenced me over the years. There are different individuals that I look to and hope that can rub off on me.
What does it mean to you to be a Latina in your industry? Do you find yourself to be the only woman or Latina in the room often?
Much of my entire career, I’ve happened to be the only Latina in the room. Which is interesting I never put too much weight on that [...] I always make sure I add some element of my culture to the conversation. You know, somehow you’re going to know I’m Cuban. I do it in jest but it’s part of who I am.
What career advice would you give to younger women?
One of the things I had struggled with was this definition of the right path of doing the right thing. [...] It wasn’t until 5 or 10 years ago that I realized there wasn’t a right path. So a lot of conversations I have with these young women and also young men is to be aware of your world. Don’t define what it is that you think you should be doing [...] But listen to your heart, listen to what resonates with you.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I think as a gender as a culture we need to start speaking up. We need to push to have a seat at the table. We need to question why things aren't happening.
What can be done to increase the number of Latinas in your industry?
I think that as more opportunities are presented, I think that as more Latinos in general are graduating from college and getting advanced degrees and infiltrating the workforce, i think we’ll see more Latinos out there in higher ed and infiltrating the workforce.
Any secret talent or hobby? Community work?
A lot of people don’t know this about me: I’m a registered yoga instructor as well. I’ve been teaching yoga for 5 years. That was also a part of my epiphany on being more open and centered.
What song really empowers you right now?
My younger son Ryan suggested Kelly Clarkson’s, “Catch My Breath.” He said, “Mom, I think that’s you. You decided you weren’t going to do what everyone said you were gonna do and you still like to have fun.” So something about that song resonated with him which was meaningful to me.
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