Jessica DeJesus, President of Prospanica in Philadelphia, is a friend who has supported Hispanic Media for several years and she is pleased with this relationship that has grown over time.
The prominent professional, MBA. Director, University of Penn, Weitzman, reveals that it has been a strange time to lead the organization due to the conditions generated by the pandemic. It has been a difficult challenge that has required a lot of creativity and reinvention to keep initiatives alive.
DeJesús earned her Masters of Business Administration from DeVry’s Keller Graduate School of Management and holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting from Peirce College.
Prospanica’s mission is to empower and enable Hispanic professionals to achieve their full educational, economic, and social potential. Jessica DeJesus talks to us about the adaptation process the organization had to undertake during the pandemic to fulfill this goal.
Prospanica during the pandemic
COVID-19 came as an earthquake that shook the foundations of our reality and led us to rethink our familiar ways anew. Prospanica was no exception. Jessica DeJesus told us about the impact.
“The first thing we did was to contact our sponsors because they were used to us having events with people. They offer us the locations or packages to get the site, to have the events. But, when the pandemic developed, the organizations did not know how to act.”
Plans could not be implemented because it was important to follow the city guidelines. “We didn’t know how to move, what we could do. We didn’t know if we were in great danger or if there were available spaces where we could work safely. After we talked to our sponsors and we decided we couldn’t wait more. So, we turned to the platforms that we had and we started organizing online events.”
Jessica DeJesus explains that with these events came certain advantages. “The professionals who have the formation to do our events were more available then. Before they had to go to different locations and it took them three or four hours to get to a place to make a presentation, but now they were able to do it in 45 minutes from their home.”
“Now we have more flexibility, much more than before. It was a time to get together and we had to think fast. We did very well because the audience had more space. If a participant is not able to attend an in-person event, now it has the option to log in and attend it even while driving a car. This kind of flexibility was a benefit for us.”
The most important online services
The President of Prospanica considers that it has been significant to provide jobs openings remotely, especially during these times with so many job offers.
“Organizations actually are looking to hire. While in the past unemployment rates were high and it was difficult, very competitive. Now organizations come to us because they want the best of the best. Our membership has professionals and well educated Latinos. They are entry- level college students with a lot of experience. They are full of ideas. So, the sponsors and organizations have the market, they have the jobs and we have the Latino community that is prepared and eager to fill those positions.”
A tool to upgrade employment for Latinos
Jessica’s participation in an event led her to explore a great tool to improve job searches for the community. She told us about it.
“We had a career event and the platform we ended up using had a tool that allowed to match the recruiters with the potential employees. The platform will automatically generate a match. I went on because I was curious to see how this tool functioned and as my employers are always hiring as well.”
“I considered this tool an interesting concept and decided to try it myself in case I need to hire someone. I went on and it was incredible because I am in financial, in contracting and when I have potential candidates, they come and talk to me for five minutes. They give me their elevator pitch. And from there, we upload their resumes. I have this tool where I can download a candidates list, their resumes and I forward it on to the recruiters.”
Latinos with more opportunities
Jessica DeJesus is convinced that educated Latinos immigrants fluent in English and Spanish have great opportunities in Philadelphia. “Organizations are looking for candidates who speak more than one language. Even before the pandemic, I worked for organizations with operations in South America and they need people who can run things for in those countries and also come here and translate the way business is done.”
“We are absolutely used to doing things in a specific way and if we consider that we´ve hit rock bottom and evaluate the way of doing business, we don´t have a choice but to come out and be strategic, be creative. We have a great network of immigrants and they have ideas that we are not used to seeing and those ideas are valuable, they are priceless and we need them in order to be able to succeed as a country.”
Looking back on the arduous road travelled in the midst of the pandemic, our friend reviews the lessons learned and projects new goals. “We always have meetings of the mind where we consider what works now, that we have been doing for the past year and a half, what we can continue to do, what we have learnt. The biggest thing we´ve learnt is that the possibilities are endless. And there are things like the career fairs that I think they are more successful online than in-person. These are free of cost tools open to the general public that can used as a mentoring and educational opportunity.”
“I´m very excited as president and be able to evaluate what we can do and what we should stop doing. Although we miss having in-person events, I believe we can create a wonderful balance between the two approaches to keep on.”
And above all, she urges never to forget the great lessons that COVID-19 has taught us. “We should never forget the pandemic because this is an absolute learning experience and it is an opportunity for us to grow personally, professionally and come out from our comfort zone.”