As an adolescent, Diana Pinedo lacked fundamental knowledge about careers and finances. Her personal quest to get informed became a brand that helps other Latinas succeed.
What is the story behind Ms. Informed Latina?
The story of Ms. Informed Latina began when I graduated college in 2009, during the recession. It was tough to say the least. I wasn’t able to find a job in my field and I ended up navigating my adult life so blindly. I made so many poor decisions because I didn’t know any better. I was lost, misguided, and misinformed. Neither college nor my upbringing really prepared me for adult life basics.
Many of us who grew up in lower-income households to immigrant parents didn’t get the basic fundamentals of how to manage finances, advance in career, or prioritize our health because our families didn’t know any better. They did the best they could with what they had and with that they knew, and the rest was up to us. But how do you even begin when you are not given the basic resources and tools to navigate your adult life?
Looking back now, I think that colleges and the exuberant amount of financial investment that we make in our higher education should be preparing you for life. There is a huge gap in what happens in your formative years from high school all the way through undergrad, and then once you’re out you’re left to fend for yourself.
So, in 2016 I set out on a quest to get more informed (hence Ms. Informed) and then knew that it was my obligation as a woman, Latina, human, and citizen to share my knowledge. The reason being that I never want other Latinas to ever feel like I did: misguided and misinformed.
Ms. Informed Latina launched in 2017 as a simple blog and YouTube channel where I would journal my own struggles and provide advice. I didn’t spend as much time building it because I was working a full-time job of 60 hours a week. Plus, I allowed self-doubt, fear, worry, and excuses to get the best of me, and my little blog sat empty for almost two years until 2020. I finally decided to go all in, letting go of any self-doubt and pulling myself up by my bootstraps. I pivoted from only a blog and YouTube channel into a full-blown brand/business and podcast.
How am I helping young Latinas get informed? I do this by creating relevant practical content via my blog and social platforms around the fundamental topics of finances, health, and career. I do live speaking events at Latino organizations within Southern California universities to personally connect with my audience because I do not want to hide behind a laptop or Instagram page. I want to personally and positively impact the lives of young people. I also created my own personal brand merchandise, and I launched my podcast “Bestie Bestie Bom Bom,” a Selena-inspired, with my best friend of over 15 years as my cohost, Elvia Sornoza.
We invite expert women of color to share their knowledge, experience, tools, and tips on all things career, finances, health, and wellness. We provide Latinas with advice from professionals to help create a larger community of informed amigas! We named our podcast after Queen Selena and her popular song “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.” She is the perfect example of who we are and what we stand for, represent, and admire — being bicultural, bilingual, Latina, and, of course, getting our Bom Bom on.
My newest goal is to enter the start-up tech world and develop an app or database platform to connect Black/Latino finance, health, and career experts and coaches to work with students of color across all college campuses.
Let’s just say I have been pouring my heart and soul into developing this brand. I have a little team of four that I hired, trained, and managed. I’ve been running this brand by DIYing everything and I’m still learning.
I hope this brand becomes a thriving tech company that I get to lead and design so I can carve out my little place in this world, but most importantly, I hope to see more of us in positions of power; getting a seat at the table; getting the representation we deserve; building generational wealth; and living in a much more equal, fair, and just world.
What would you say are the most common obstacles that children of immigrants come across in their career? Why is it important to address these issues?
I think it depends on a variety of factors as everyone’s journey as a first gen is different. Some of the common obstacles I’ve heard through stories shared on my platform are advocacy, career growth, and looking for new opportunities. What I mean by advocacy is self-advocacy. Many first gens don’t have the tools, resources, or knowledge to self-advocate, whether it’s at the start of a job offer when you can negotiate salary or during performance reviews when asking for a pay raise or promotion. For many of us, we have been taught to just be grateful to have a job, work hard, and stay quiet, a mentality that is often passed down from our immigrant parents who were continuously living in survival mode, and understandably so. This keeps many of us stagnant in our careers, with little understanding of our career trajectory or how to make more money, when we already get paid less to our white colleague counterparts.
This also ties to career growth, the second major obstacle. In order for us to really begin to not only represent ourselves in leadership positions or run companies, we need to understand career growth planning and take the steps to get there. Without the right tools or people in place to help us, we often stay in dormant roles which makes it harder for us to open up the door for new opportunities. Lastly, we need to be open for new opportunities. Many of us stay in toxic work environments because we are scared or fearful to take risks or just don’t know how to move on to new opportunities. Often, what scares us is the unknown. If we do move on from our job, we have to prove ourselves all over again. However, with the right guidance and confidence, I think we could benefit on betting on ourselves more; we might be surprised at just how great we can be when we step into our power and light.
In your blog, you talk about “hustle culture.” What is that, and how can Latinos find the right balance between hustling and thriving?
Hustle culture is the grind to be always looking for more — more money to make, a bigger title or promotion, and a higher wall to climb. So, we are constantly in a state of productivity and that often leads to burnout, which has been a leading cause of women leaving the workforce over the last several years. I don’t want to confuse hustle with being an overachiever. There are benefits to having more drive, ambition, and perseverance, and rather than finding the right balance, which doesn’t exist, it’s about compromise and sacrifice so that you can live a life you are proud of, happy in, and thriving.
What I mean by that is that with any dream or goal we have to have the action steps to achieve them. Sometimes it requires us to hustle hard to temporarily obtain that goal or dream, and in doing so, we have to sacrifice time with friends, family, hobbies, or passions in order to achieve them. But it’s not an all-or-nothing game. You might miss one month or one social event, but you can make it up the next. It’s more a matter of how to best manage your time than having to choose hustle over living a happy life.
What can we do to overcome the Latina wage gap?
I think we need to unlearn so many things we were taught from our parents, like work hard, be grateful, don’t complain, stay quiet, or get an education. I say that because it’s what often keeps us stagnant, stuck, and uninformed. In order to overcome the wage gap, we need to identify and understand what salary ranges exist for the roles we are going after and then couple that with the tools to negotiate. We need to work on a career plan to move into more senior level roles that not only pay more but also open more opportunities for other Latinas to have a seat at the table, and we need to be open to pivoting and changing if the career we chose doesn’t leave enough room for growth or increase potential.